Solving the federal governments' budget dilemma has elicited innumerable ideas from economist and politicians over the years.
These ideas, mostly election year platitudes designed solely to garner votes, lack any genuine chance of becoming reality in a harshly divided Congress. Democrats drone on about increasing taxes on the rich and corporations, while Republicans haughtily decree that ending decades of federal social programs is the only true solutions.
However a novel idea put forth by a homeless street panhandler in New Orleans may offer the best solution yet to balance the budget, and best of all his solution would be enthusiastically accepted by the nations voters.
The homeless man who goes by the street name of Sawdust offered the solution, as a tribute in a way, if only I would donate a dollar or two to his cause.
Why, I inquired, should I give him any money when I knew he was just going to buy cheap wine with it? It was then that he sprang his little trap on me.
"Look," he said patiently almost like he was talking to a child, "even bums have to eat sometimes." Besides, he offered, if I would give a buck or two he would tell me the solution to balancing the federal budget, with balancing state budgets thrown in for free.
Surprised, I told him if he'd tell me his idea first and if I found it worthy then, sure, I might donate a few dollars to his cause, such as it was.
He told me that he had read a few years back that in total there were now around seventy thousand politicians in America. "This number, "he said, "includes local, state and national members of the second estate."
This "second estate" reference intrigued me. I realized this man might not be the fool I thought he was. And for reasons unknown now I felt slightly on the defensive.
"Politicians lie, right? They say all kind of untrue crazy shit all the time because no one calls then on it," he said, which reminded me of the old joke about how do you tell if a politician is lying, the answer being because their lips are moving.
I knew he was right. Politicians lie all the time. They lie to their spouses about having affairs with staffers, like Newt Gingrich did while his wife was dying of cancer, they lie about fathering children with other woman like John Edwards or Arnold Schwarzenegger, they lie about walking on the Appalachian Trail while in actuality they're having sex with their girlfriend in South America, London, Paris or wherever, they lie about hookers, money, giving bribes and taking bribes, they lie because they don't know how to tell the fucking truth to begin with.
What if, he said, a politician caught lying was fined, maybe a hundred bucks or so. A hundred bucks is nothing to a politician, mere pocket change.
"Now imagine this," he said, adding that politicians probably lie on the order of at least once per day to their constituents or family members. "Seventy thousand politicians lying once a day, times a one hundred dollar fine, times three-hundred sixty-four days per year. Add it up and it comes to around to two and a half trillion dollars a year, enough to balance the entire fucking federal budget, right?"
I had to agree that two and a half trillion dollars a year would go a long ways to balancing the federal budget.
But what happened to that missing day, the three-hundred sixty-fifth day?
"Well, shit, that's Christmas day. Let's be Christian about this and give those lying mother fuckers Christmas day off."
You know, I remarked, that these politicians probably would skip out on paying the fines too, don't you?
"Slimy fucking politicians. But you gotta love the idea don't you?"
I nodded, gave him a couple of bucks and walked on down the street.