How the sequester works — an easy to understand analogy

Weird family n kitchen

Dad works hard at a job that pays reasonably well and Mom runs the house.  She’s an okay manager, but somewhat careless.  On Dad’s salary, which includes a 4% raise every year, she provides all the basics, such as feeding, clothing, and educating their two children.  Every year, without fail, the family heads to Disneyland, and has some great memories and a nice photo album to show for these annual jaunts.  But she’s also a bit careless.  She periodically pays the mortgage and credit card bills late, incurring penalties and interest.  She leaves unnecessary lights burning whenever she leaves the room.  She’s an excellent cook, but she occasionally buys some expensive food and then forgets to use it, so she has to throw it out when it spoils.  She’s an impulse shopper, so her closet has clothes that she wore once and then never again.  She always forgets to put money in the meter, so she has a backlog of parking tickets.  That kind of thing.  None of them are a big deal, but taken together, they definitely drain away a small, but solid percent of the family’s money.

One day, Dad comes home and says, “Mom, the boss told me that, because of the recession, instead of getting my 4% annual raise, I’ll only get a 3% annual raise.  We’ll still be bringing in more money than last year, but not quite as much more as we had expected.  We may have to retrench a little.”

Mom is livid.  “How dare your boss do that!  You’ve been a great employee.  Well, if we have to retrench, I’ll show him!  And I’ll make you suffer too for working for such a cheapskate.”

Here’s what Mom does not do:  Mom does not pay her mortgage or credit bills on time; she does not pay attention to turning out the lights; she does not make sure to buy food she wants and then use that food; she does not curb her occasional impulse clothes spending; and she makes no effort to pay attention to parking meters.

Here’s what Mom does:  she tells the kids they’re never going to Disneyland again; she starts serving only Mac ‘n Cheese from a box; she only buys the family clothes from goodwill; and she constantly tells them that it’s not her fault that their lives have become so miserable.  She’s just responding to Dad and his mean boss.

Keep that parable in mind the next time you don’t get to see the Blue Angels fly, or you don’t get a tour of the White House.  And keep it in mind as the government continues to spend money on studies about condom use and monkey poop and whatever else stupid thing it keeps funding with your dollars.

And that ends today’s lesson….

(And for those of you who think it’s sexist that Dad works and Mom is the vicious, greedy harpy who keeps the house please feel free to make up whatever gender roles you like:  working Mom and housekeeping Dad; working Mom and housekeeping Mom; or working Dad and housekeeping Dad.  Gender isn’t the point.)

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  • 11B40

    Another bit of tid from my “How My Twig Was Bent” file:
    My father was a Teamster (Local 282) truck driver working in New York City’s construction industry.  While our family never suffered any serious economic disruption, the vagaries of the industry did have impacts. Cold weather, the business cycle, and employee strikes could all interrupt the flow of precious dollars. Living through and around those events resulted in my having a real-world grounding in economics and the intelligence of having some appreciation for frugality. For too many people, I fear that those days have passed.

  • Mike Devx

    Book says: And for those of you who think it’s sexist that Dad works and Mom is the vicious, greedy harpy who keeps the house please feel free to make up whatever gender roles you like
    Well, Book… since you mentioned ‘sexism’ and there hasn’t been an open thread in a few days, I’m going to pretend to be on topic and write some stuff.
    So, apparently Barack Obama is in trouble due to this comment concerning California Attorney General Kamala Harris:
    “You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” Obama said, adding: “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country.”
    Yeah. Right.  Obama is harmed by being viewed as a sexist pig and was forced to apologize for it.  What idiots!!!
    85% of guys heard the Obama comment, took one look at Ms. Harris, and agreed completely.
    Another 10% were within earshot of their wife or girlfriend and wisely chose not to comment.
    After he apologized, all of them thought, “Good way to protect your tender parts.  And very wise!  Even though you were right.  Smart fellow.”
    More importantly, when women heard his comments, I’m reasonably sure almost half of them – or greater! – approved MORE of Obama than before he made those comments.  They take one look at her and have to agree the comment correctly reflects reality.   And, call this the Bill Clinton effect:  I think for many women, when a man is about to make a comment on a stunningly gorgeous woman, other women EXPECT and DEMAND that he notice that she is a gorgeous woman.
    Women will not vote for a man who cannot see that a woman is gorgeous.  Any politician has to make some sort of comment, in the best way possible, to indicate his recognition of that, or he will LOSE points.  Among women.  “Obama, you horny dog!” they may exclaim, but a whole bunch of them are exclaiming it WITH subtle approval.  Then comes the apology, and if he can make it APPEAR heartfelt, he gains even more points.
    Obama is following the Bill Clinton playbook, probably making that comment in EXACTLY the way he did on purpose.  Then he waited the right political amount of time, and issued the sincerity-dripping apology.   Went backstage to his campaign director and they smirked at each other.  The whole thing worked.  It works every time.

  • Spartacus

    Caveat #1: Michelle Obama is not my favorite person, but as a wife, she deserves the respect of not having her husband publicly admiring another woman.
    Caveat #2: In the case of one public official publicly recognizing and praising another, it was somewhat demeaning and inappropriate to Ms. Harris to bring up her looks, and it was juvenile of Barack to do it.
    Now, all that being said… for cryin’ out loud, isn’t there anyone in DC who actually means anything they say, and when pressed, won’t apologize, or “walk it back,” or “refine their remarks”???  Holy camoley!  There is an epidemic of spinelessness in the face of anyone who claims to be offended!  How about dealing with all these allegedly “offended” people by thanking them for their input and reassuring them that we all support their right to be offended?  Instead, you could count on your fingers the number of politicians in DC who will actually stick to their guns, and still have enough fingers left over to order enough beers to drown your sorrows over this sad state of affairs very thoroughly.

  • Freddie Sykes

    For an alternative explanation see

    Fred was watching  a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on.

    The other man came along behind him and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the hole.

    The men worked right past Fred and went on down the road. “I can’t stand this,”mumbled Fred,  and headed down the road toward the men.

    “Hold it, hold it,” he called to the men. “Can you tell me what’s going on here with all this digging and refilling?”

    “Well, we work for the city and we’re just doing our job,” one of the men said.

    “But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You’re not accomplishing anything. Aren’t you wasting the taxpayers’ money?”

    “You don’t understand, mister,” one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. “Normally there’s three of us: me, Elmer and Leroy. I dig the hole, Elmer sticks in the tree, and Leroy here puts the dirt back.

    Elmer’s job’s been cut… so now it’s just me an’ Leroy.

  • Charles Martel

    I agree with Spartacus that Obama’s comment was a diss against his wife. Ike or Reagan would have never stooped to it. But keep in mind that for Barack Obama, all human beings–his wife included–are means to an end. One of the reasons why he married Michelle was to hide the fact that he is asexual. I don’t think he dislikes women, I just don’t think he thinks about them in any way, serious or not. (He reminds me of The Mule, the seminal game changer in  Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Freed of any sexual needs or wants, he could focus on taking over the galaxy.)
    So Barry’s quip about Kamala was a calculated attempt to show that the antennae on his gonads are tuned to the standard frequencies. 
    As for Kamala herself,l I agree that she is a looker. Other than that she is a typically doctrinaire leftist who has traded on her mixed-race heritage all her life. She knows full well that were you to turn over the Democratic Party rock, it would reveal the truth that the party is Racism Central itself. She has been playing on the Dems’ guilt and deep ambivalence all the way to high office.

  • Mike Devx

    The problem with what Obama said is in its construction:
    “You have to be careful to, first of all, to say ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’.  Then you can say, ‘D’.”
    And when ‘D’ is sexist, and you’ve “been careful” to say ‘A’,’B’, and ‘C’ first, then you can apparently get away with ‘D’.
    It is possible to compliment a woman’s beauty or a man’s handsomeness without being crass.  Obama fails.  For me, he *always* fails: The man oozes insincerity and deception from not just his mouth but his very pores.  But for some reason a majority of Americans still fall for it.  I’ll never understand.

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  • Charles Martel

    “The man oozes insincerity and deception from not just his mouth but his very pores. But for some reason a majority of Americans still fall for it. I’ll never understand.”
    Mike Devx, that’s why the Eden story has such a deep insight into human nature. The serpent understood the appeal of honeyed lies. In this case, the serpent is Obama, and the spiel is one that appeals to vanity. After all, who doesn’t want to be seen as a hip, non-racist, compassionate, cool follower of a man who [supposedly] fits all those descriptions himself? Glory that spills off him spills onto us. (Not to mention free phones and EBT cards.)

  • Ymarsakar

    Evil is often more persuasive. It sounds good. It sounds righteous.