We know two couples who recently had their first children. Both couples are worried about providing the best opportunities for their children, and they want only the best when it comes to opportunities. Both families make comfortable livings, but neither themselves nor their friends have extra money to waste on frivolous purchases. Couple A recognizing that getting ahead requires sacrifice in the present for their future, so they accept hand-me-downs of every size and shape. Couple B feels that Junior deserves only the best so they make a request that family and friends should only buy clothing and toys from certain high-end retailers. Couple A receives an abundance of goods and is able to put their money towards a college fund for their child. Couple B receives some items, but has to supplement by making additional purchases. Couple B is not able to save as much money for their child because they have less money available.
Couple A will be able to provide for their family in the future because they made sacrifices today. They recognized the value of the donations they received. They also recognized that baby clothes are often worn only a few times and are in perfectly serviceable shape. The child will not be damaged by wearing the same shirt that another child (or two or three) wore. Practicality outweighs pride in this situation. Couple A knows that their limited funds still have to pay for pediatrician services, food, housing and all of the other costs associated with having children.
Couple B will continue to live paycheck to paycheck because style is more important than substance. They believe that if they look good or drive the nicest car then all of their friends and neighbors will think they are successful. Their child will wear these name brand clothes once or twice just like every other infant before they outgrow the clothing. It becomes a cycle of wasteful spending as the child grows since only the name brands matter (to the parents, but eventually to the child as well).
Our politicians appear to be living in the same fantasy land as Couple B. No matter how much you tell everyone that the economy hasn't tanked, jobs are gone never to be replaced, and we are dangerously close to defaulting on our obligations, they don't listen. Obviously if you are reading this post, you recognize the age old truth that politicians lie. Not all politicians and not all of the time (well maybe not all the time). But when Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says that the guaranteed Green Loans to companies such as Solyndra were a "success", we have to wonder if we have slipped into some sort of Bizarro world where up is down and right is wrong. To be sure the loan program in question has had some "success", if success is defined as not defaulting on the loans. Have you see the thousands of jobs promised from these taxpayer funds? Neither have we.
You may remember that Solyndra declared bankruptcy in 2011 after being given some of this Green Loan money. On top of that, private investors were repaid their investment before the Green Loan money was repaid (or in this case not repaid). Our money comes from our blood, sweat and tears. To needlessly through our money at problem and call it a success is disrespectful of each and every one of us. That which is easily taken is easily given up. This means that when a politician talks about spending your money on some hairbrained idea it is easy for them. They didn't work extremely hard to earn that money so to them it doesn't hold the same value as it does to us.
Secretary Moniz praises the low default rate of 2% as something to be lauded. What he fails to clarify is that 2% of 35 Billion dollars equals $700 million dollars flushed down the toilet. We think we speak for all of the American public when we say that $700 million dollars is a large sum of money and should not have been needlessly wasted on a pet project without adequate guarantees of repayment. If someone wants to take a risk to create a new technology and thereby reap the rewards if it is successful then by all means make the effort. When that same organization says we have a great idea but we need money to get it started, shouldn't we expect more than a rough business plan scribbled on a napkin as proof of concept.
It is your choice. Continue to spend money we don't have on projects that are shiny and new or spend our money in less flashy, but more fiscally sound ways. Should the US government act more like Couple A by making sacrifices today for our future or should we continue to be more like Couple B, all flash and no substance. Something to think about.