Saturday, November 05, 2011

Like I always said...

On my very first day of first grade at Millville Grade School, our bus driver, Howard Tucker, picked me up in the morning and brought me back home that afternoon. 12 years later he was still hauling me to school in the morning and bringing me back home in the afternoon. Early on, my Mom had told my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and me that Howard was also her bus driver when she was in school, so Stinky and I kind of assumed that Mr. Tucker had always driven a school bus. I guess "always" isn't near as long when you're six years old.

When I was growing up, one of our farmer neighbors up towards Mooreland raised tomatoes. As far as I knew, he and his family had always raised tomatoes. He told me the other day they weren't going to raise tomatoes anymore. I also found that they hadn't always raised tomatoes. Apparently they had been raising them for 44 years. They raised about 200,000 tons of tomatoes in that amount of time. That's about 400 million pounds of tomatoes. As near as I could figure, that's about 312,454,680 bottles of ketchup, give or take a couple of bottles or so, or about 1 bottle of ketchup for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

I imagine that that a lot of people involved with that farm thought they had always raised tomatoes, or at least thought it seemed that way. Certainly they had been raising them longer than some of those people have been alive. And while they won't be raising them anymore, I'm pretty sure that someone else will. At least I'm confident enough that I'm not going to start stockpiling any ketchup.

I saw a clip from the television show "Meet the Press" the other day, where host David Gregory was interviewing one of the GOP presidential candidates, Ron Paul. When Mr. Paul mentioned getting the federal government out of the housing market, Mr. Gregory replied "But the governments always had a role in housing". I have no doubt that Mr. Gregory believes that. The government has probably been involved in housing for as long as he can remember.

It's hard to think of very much that the government isn't involved in these days, and the government has been involved in most of it for as long as most of us can remember. I don't imagine there are very many people who can remember when we didn't have an income tax. And there are getting to be fewer all the time who can remember when Social Security and Medicare weren't a fact of life.

The federal government is currently the provider and administrator of hundreds of social and service programs. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, it hasn't always been that way. (Prior to 1913, unless we were at war, most people were blissfully unaware of the federal government.) The cost of those programs has put the government currently $15 trillion in debt, with untold trillions of dollars more debt facing taxpayers in the near future, in the form of promised but unfunded benefits and pensions.

Nobody knows for sure when the government will run out of credit, or no longer be able to collect enough revenue to continue funding all of its programs, or which programs will be reduced or eliminated first, but the government can't always continue to do what many people believe it has always done.

When you spend more than you make it eventually catches up with you.

It always does.


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