The government should run itself like a family and live within its means.
-Governor Tom Corbett-
Yesterday we passed a budget. It’s kind of like passing a kidney stone, only more painful. (And I say that as someone who just had his first kidney stone, the story of which is forthcoming in a future BLOG called “Kidney-Copia!”, complete with links to Youtube and a gift shop).
This budget was particularly painful, unless of course you were a wealthy energy executive or wealthy contributor to Governor Corbett’s campaign, in which case it was still painful, if you define pain as “getting lots and lots of money and being asked to contribute nothing.” Education, health care, poor people, the environment all took a huge hit. Why? Because, as Governor Corbett said, we were living within our means and acting like a family does. And presumably this doesn’t mean the Manson Family, although that would help things make more sense.
But is that really true? Is this lots-of-cuts-but-no-new-revenues policy really consistent with what a family does? As I understand the Corbett philosophy, this is how he would advise a breadwinner to address his family in tough times.
Gather round family. I have some bad news for you.
Do we have to shoot the cat again?
No son, worse. Times are tough. We all have to tighten our belts.
But Daddy, your belt seems to tighten on its own.
It’s a metaphor, little girl. The point is, we have to cut back. So from now on, we’re down to two meals per day. No new clothes, no more piano lessons.
But we don’t take piano lessons.
Hush!! Plus, no more tutoring, and son, don’t suck on that asthma inhaler to hard, cause you’re not getting another one. Oh, and we’re going to have to shoot the cat. Again.
But you said we wouldn’t have to shoot Fluffles!
That was another metaphor, Son. But I want to make you a solemn promise. The one thing we will never do is accept any new income into this house.
No more income?
That’s right dear. I give you my word of honor, that I will not ask for a raise, I will not work more hours, I will not get a second job, and if I find money on the street, I will not spend it on this family. I promise
But wouldn’t it be better to have some additional income than to stop feeding the kids?
Only if you are a Socialist and hate America dear. Now where is that damn cat?
Of course all of this is ridiculous (except the cat part). Any family facing tough choices would seek new income. Further, most families go into debt to live in their own home or send their kids to college. Some things are worth investing in. That’s why, while Grover Norquist’s “No-Tax Pledge” has enticed some politicians to sign, his “No-New-Income Pledge” for families has been less successful, as has his “No-New-Oxygen Pledge” for deep sea divers. Sometimes you simply need resources to make your life work. Most families understand that, and would be confused by Governor Corbett’s unbreakable promise to deny our state the resources to function.