Sunday, July 31, 2011

Let's Kick Some Bad Cliches To The Curb

Or we could throw them under the bus.

The Madville Times and Dakota Today have been doing yeoman work to illustrate the vapid nature of the family budget cliche.

Equally ubiquitous and perhaps more useless, "we've got to stop kicking the can down the road" must disappear from our public discourse.

Instead, let's ask these three questions posed by Megan McArdle.
Which of these things shall we cut?  How shall we build a coalition to pass those cuts, and stick to them in the face of what is bound to be fierce and ugly resistance from those who the programs benefit?  And when we have decided that we can cut no further, what taxes will we raise to pay for what's left?
The focus group tested "kicking the can down the road" has allowed only one side of the political spectrum to dominate the argument.  I won't dignify what's happening by calling it a debate. The cliche doesn't allow for the third question at all.  Most importantly, the cliche dangerously oversimplifies a complex situation.

McArdle even includes this helpful chart to show how money is spent.


It should be clear to all but the most extreme partisan on either side that the solutions to the current mess will be painful and that both sides must kill a few of their own "zombie sacred cows."  The results of the current debate that has focused on "kicking the can" will probably result in the middle class being kicked in the groin.

I'm just guessing, but I expect if Americans were allowed to have a civil discussion based on McArdle's chart and questions, the budget cuts would be far different than the ones Americans will see over the next few years

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