Have you been hearing ads on the radio telling you to “feed the pig”? The ads, sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and The Advertising Council, offer suggestions for cutting expenses such as brown-bagging lunch or cutting out your morning latte at the local Starbucks. As cost-cutting measures, these might have been good tips well worth mentioning when people were earning money. At a time when so many are unemployed and higher taxation is sharpening its claws preparing to pounce, this is a bit like bailing out a sinking boat with a teaspoon.
Nevertheless, if your boat is sinking and all you have available is a teaspoon, you should use it. Maybe you will only gain 20 seconds, but those may be exactly the 20 seconds needed for a rescue helicopter to spot you. At the very least, you will be a partner in your own salvation.
One can only wish that similar ads were played for Congress. Am I the only one tired of hearing that the response to suggested cost-cutting measures is, “That will at most save only 1.4 million,” so it’s not worth discussing? Or as Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.) said while explaining why he doesn’t return leftover taxpayer funds given to him for use on a Congressional trip, ” I won’t deny that sometimes I have a little left, but it’s not much—maybe 80, 90, or 100 dollars.” Unfortunately, Rep. Butterfield is expressing normative thinking for many elected representatives of both political parties.
Granted, when we are running up trillions of dollars of debts, taking careful stock of $80 or even $1.4 million may not do very much. However, not treating the money in a responsible fashion does a great deal to eradicate trust in government and destroy any pretence that those who govern are actually men and women worthy of their offices. The ad council may be referring to piggy banks when they tell us to feed the pig. Somehow, when one thinks of Congress an entirely different image of pork comes to mind.