Budget? What’s a Budget?

I learned a few things about money management during my paid working career (as compared to retirement, where I work for free 😉). Some of it was eye-opening. For example, one day I overheard a program leader comment that his program had taken a 5% budget cut. Five percent? We built that budget with sharp pencils and calculations down to the penny, so what did he mean, a 5% cut? We worked by the federal fiscal year, October 1 through September 30. He planned for a 10% increase going into the new year, received only a 5% increase from the funding agency, and he saw that as a 5% cut. Even with a 5% increase he did not get all that he wanted, so he was down in the mouth about a “cut.”

Later I noticed our funding agencies playing the same game with Congress. A federal program, or maybe an entire agency, would ask for a 15% budget increase. Congress deliberated, held hearings, kicked the can down the road once or twice, and then finally worked out some budget numbers in conference committee over cold pizza and cold coffee in the middle of the night. No smoking allowed, or it would have been the proverbial smoke filled room. The agency received, say, a 9% increase but then complained about the 6% “cut” like it was a punch to the gut. The extra 6% never actually existed, except in their hopes and dreams, but that did not stop the story of a “cut.”

And now we see the US government playing a similar game on the taxpayers. Which taxpayers? You, me, our kids, and our grandkids. So how does the game work? Well, the executive branch decided to forgive (bail out) student loans to the tune of $300B, $500B, or maybe more. Nobody seems to know how much this will eventually cost (the feds don’t seem to figure anything all that closely), but it is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. So how will they pay for this wealth transfer? Where will they find the money to forgive the debts? Glad to hear that you have the same question, and this week a government spokesman gave us the answer: with taxes going up and federal spending not ramping up as fast as they would like, they think that the growth in the federal debt this year will be a trillion and a half or so less than expected, so that gives them plenty of room to forgive a few hundred billions in student loans. And maybe spend some more money when they think of how to spend it. So they will write off the loan dollars against red ink dollars that have a kind of questionable existence. Kind of reminds me of the hypothetical 5% that my deserving program leader wanted. Am I missing something here, or is this just hocus-pocus on a trillion dollar scale?

By the way, the Bible is shot full of places where God calls for justice in our lives, communities, and commerce. Honest scales and honest money come to mind, although God’s justice is about much more than scales or money. It might be a good idea to pray for justice in our government.

4 thoughts on “Budget? What’s a Budget?

  1. For the politicians and bureaucrats it’s all about power and money. Very few are governing for what i would call God’s good will. Yet, God put them in place. Why??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Romans 13 tells us that they are supposed to execute justice, but since they are corrupted by sin, they often fail. I can identify with the prophet Habakkuk in terms of frustration with things getting out of hand.


      1. Throughout the Bible God’s people turn away from from Him repeatedly but return in the face of hardship and in His mercy He forgives and takes them back but not before the recognize and repent of their sins. Should we be praying for repentance?


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