I remember when I was a kid, my mother got me a checkbook and a home “savings account” and told me that I had to learn to manage my money. I earned a large sum of $20 per week for doing dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning my room, mowing the lawn, etc. Every week, I would jot down another $20 that my bank (mom and dad) owed me. When I wanted a new video game or a movie, I would deduct the cost from my total. I was proud to see my savings grow and actually enjoyed the big boy responsibilities (and relative financial independence) my parents gave at such a young age.
Never-the-less, I still looked forward to my birthday and Christmas. Being just a few weeks apart, I often passed on purchasing many things myself throughout the year, knowing I was spoiled enough that I could probably convince my parents, or Santa, to get it for me later in the year. Yet, sometimes I was good and I still didn’t get everything I really wanted. What I didn’t understand was that just because I was good, expensive presents didn’t become any less of a burden on my parents finances. As I uncovered the truth about Santa, I also learned that money doesn’t grow on trees in the month of December.
Today, with Barack Obama elected as our next President, an article in the Los Angeles Times reports that public officials all over the country have yet to grow up. From trains, to healthcare, to sewer lines, to sound walls for freeways, mural programs, and on and on and on, politicians everywhere are holding out their hands to the Santa Claus in D.C.
After mishandling local and state budgets, and knowing that our federal budgets looks even worse, our public officials are still asking for presents as if they come out of a big red sack. Apparently, even after a Presidential debate filled with admonitions of “pork barrel spending”, budget deficits, and attacks about who was going to raise taxes more, our public officials learned little about financial responsibility, a lot about empty rhetoric, and nothing about living within our means.
So, in the next few years, we will find out if Obama will be the Santa Claus many of our public officials want him to be, or the responsible parent we need him to be.