Sunday, March 4, 2007

Ted Turner for budget responsibility!

Congratulations to CBS's 60 Minutes for airing an excellent piece on the current state of the American budget. Read the online version of the story here. In short, it focuses on David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, who is doing his best to raise public awareness of the gross inadequacies of the projected US government revenue and expenditure. Walker is on a tour of states scheduled to hold early presidential primaries in the hopes of getting somebody to pay attention.

DeTocq doesn't have the level of off-handed expertise to delve into the nitty-gritty on numbers, but suffice it to say that this issue deserves to be on par with the recent surge in public notarity for global warming. The difficulties faced by proponents of budget unsustainability roughly match up with those faced by the global warming crowd as recently as a few months ago: both problems are long-range issues which current politicians have little incentive to care about before their next general election, and the issues were very valid within the confines of their smallish wonky circles but faced problems of widespread public acceptance. The global warming problem has only received widespread public support since Al Gore's remarkable transformation into a genuine "cool" A-list celeb. (And who would have bet $100 that Gore would have had this cult superstar status in 2000? Can you say "landslide"?)

Who will be the budget's celebrity champion? Any politician who espouses lowering taxes but increasing spending is plainly lying to their constituency, so most of them are out. But somehow, somewhere, this issue needs its Al Gore -- a recognized leader with public credibility educate the masses. Though Walker, the comptroller, is doing an "enormous public service", as stated by Sen. Conrad (D-ND), the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, he is, quite frankly, a boring accounant who doesn't command much attention. How about a figure like Ted Turner? He's a respected businessman with history of public credibility through massive charity support.

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