Will Congress balance the budget? Will there be a government shut-down? Are we going to rob from the rich to give to the poor, or are we going to rob from the poor to give to the rich? Are we going to become communists? Are we going to become corporate fascists? Are we all going to die?
Every time I feel myself getting sucked into the media hysteria that is the budget deficit, I go back to an interactive deficit puzzle created presumably by the New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt in November of last year.
This interactive deficit puzzle has soothed me many times, and each time I begin the puzzle, I am reminded of how simple and effective it is. I can balance the budget without hurting the elderly or the poor, and upon balancing the budget, I am left feeling joyful. My euphoria only lasts for a few minutes though, because in completing Leonhardt’s puzzle, I am left wondering why the budget has taken months to balance when I can balance it in less than five minutes… has every member of Congress sat down and used a tool like this?
I know all those fogies in Congress probably don’t remember anything from their last economics class, so maybe a puzzle/tool/application like Leonhardt’s would be most helpful in getting these elected officials to think about budget deficit concepts in terms of money and not social agenda. Leonhardt’s project breaks down US spending and tax areas in concise and understandable language, and with its point and click format, even new computer-using Congressmen can understand how to solve the deficit.
Can’t the Speaker of the House and Joe Biden send out a mass e-mail to all Congressmen demanding everyone use Leonhardt’s interactive puzzle before the next session? That mass e-mail should close with a line something like… “Any elected official that refuses to use Leonhardt’s puzzle because it is on the New York Times site will be barred from the floor.”
^^ If the rest of the United States looks like this, I just might move to Canada. Collecting firewood is only fun the first couple of times… ^^
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