Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Bang for Your Bucks

There was a time, not all that long ago, when we could go to the “Five and Dime Store” and actually buy things for a nickel or a dime.

A flyer arrived recently from a local farm supply store. It proudly and prominently announced great savings during a whole week of “Dollar Days.” Two items, bird suet cakes and canned dog food, were on sale for less than a dollar. Prices of the other 28 advertised items, all for human consumption or use, ranged from $2.50 to $30.

Soon, we may be able to patronize the "Twenty Dollar Store." Obviously, dollars aren’t worth what they once were, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to use them sensibly.

People who understand and practice personal fiscal responsibility know there are two basic ways to conserve their dollars. The obvious is to refrain from unnecessary big-item spending. Often overlooked, but often just as important in the long run, is to pare or eliminate small recurring expenses.

Apparently, this knowledge does not extend to some economists whose “thinking” influences national debates and policy making. One wrote recently that cutting an over-inflated item by 10 percent would only save $26 billion dollars, and therefore was not worth doing. He called the $26 billion savings a “drop in the bucket.”

That economist needs an infusion of common sense. He could start by pondering the famous statement attributed to the late Everett Dirksen of Illinois, long-time Senate Republican leader:

“A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

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