I am painfully horrible at math. Ever since fourth grade that subject, as black and white as it is, has been my academic Achilles' heel.
But simple addition, subtraction and multiplication? Even I can handle that, which is why I am so confused as to how New York State doesn't have a budget.
At first, I was all set to blast New York legislators for disgustingly mismanaging funds and for taxing the snot out of anything that remotely resembles progress. Profitable businesses and wealthy investors (think Tom Golisano) literally run away from New York. I would have been justified because according to CNBC, New York's general fund has to increase by 31.9 percent, or $17.65 billion, to fix the current deficit. That gives our lovely state the second-place prize in the national "Hot Mess" competition, coming in close behind Nevada (we can't feel bad, they have Vegas, right?). Iceland is the international winner of the week.
All kidding aside, New York is in trouble. But after I did some research, it became quickly obvious that this problem is not unique to us. Eight states, ranging in size and population from California to Vermont, are missing more than 20 percent of the money they need to function.
On a national scale, we're dumping billions of dollars into defense spending and at home, money is oozing through the cracks of inefficient health care plans. Every other headline or newscast is about million-dollar earmarks, hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the war or trillion-dollar bailout plans. Do these numbers even mean anything anymore? A billion here, a gajillion there, whatever.
I feel like we're getting so desensitized to our massive national expenditures, and the resulting debt, that our tax dollars have become Monopoly money. The federal government is a kid with a student ID and a campus full of CAS food in front of it, just swiping away. Unfortunately, instead of our parents getting ripped off, it's us, and our kids, and their kids, who will be paying for today's purchases.
I know that the U.S. economy is not in immediate danger of dying a painful, fiery death, and I am definitely not a professional economist, but something here is off. It is understood that making the decision to stop funding beneficial programs is a tough one, but it is necessary. I have already complained about budget cuts to the SUNY system, and I still think that taking money away from schools should be a last resort. Some debt is inevitable and expected, but the mismanagement of funds that has lead to this current budget crisis is absolutely unacceptable.
The dismal state of the economy in the past few years has been partially blamed on the irresponsible spending of the American people - insane lines of credit, unrealistic mortgages, etc. If I were following the fiscal example of the American government, I wouldn't have a house either. Spending needs to be controlled at all levels, whether you're balancing your checkbook at your kitchen table or making ends meet in Washington.