Understanding Big Numbers, Plato’s Position, Local Vote Speak Volumes, Occupy & Crapping On The Sidewalk, Kicking Up The Yearend Business , Learning Life’s Lessons from the Docs.

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

Recently I was asked, as an accountant, do I understand the numbers being discussed when talking about the Federal Budget and the Budget Cuts in relationship to the National Debt. I do understand these numbers.

A major problem we have in our country today is the fact the Federal Government has grown to such a size that most people don’t have the ability to comprehend the magnitude of the numbers being discussed, mainly due to the number of zeros. Yes, the number of zeros. Below is an example of what I’m talking about.

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000 (Tax money coming in each year) (it’s kinda like your pay check)

Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000 (The amount of money actually spent during the year)

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000 (The amount of money spent above the paycheck, it’s put on credit cards)

National debt: $14,271,000,000,000 (Amount now owed on all the credit cards)

Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (The amount of spending cuts during the year, to reduce debt)

Here’s a good way to understand these expertly large numbers and be able to relate these national numbers to your life for one year. Just remove 8 zeros from every number above, and consider it to be your household budget for next year. A set of numbers you have to live with for the next 12 months of your life. Now look at the new numbers for your household next year.

Annual family income: $21,700 (Your paycheck)

Money the family will spend: $38,200 (The total amount you’re going to spend)

New debt on the credit card: $16,500 (The new amount you spent over your income, and put on credit cards)

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710 (The total balance of all your credit cards)

Total budget cuts during the year: $385 (The amount you reduced spending this year to help you reduce debt)

There’s no better way to understand large numbers than to be able to relate ‘em to your life. The above example does just that.

Now that’s one reason why Sophia the Republican Cat gets so crazy at the political types when it comes to finance public financing of government. The cat is pissed off to the ninth degree about those who cannot read the numbers. Who cannot take away 8 zeros and understand the numbers. Those who believe you can spend your way out of debt. A pox on their house, be they democrat or republican, a pox on their house. So says Sophia the Republican Cat.

As many of you regular Sunday Evening Visitors to the EastWing know, Sophia is a very mild mannered little cat who seldom ever takes an issue to anything. Sophia is not known for being involved in any type of controversial political discussions. However she does support the Forrest Gump principle of “Stupid is as stupid does” when it comes to politics. And from time to time, Sophia has been known to point out who stupid is. Damn Republican Cat.

It’s as if the people in Washington can’t see what’s illustrated so simply by removing 8 zeros from everything. And such people continue to be reelected to national public office. Shame on us. I propose the condition of this nation is not the fault of the politicians. Rather the fault of the electorate, me and thee, for continuing to send these people back into public sector. Shame on us.

I believe is was Peg Bracken who said “Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut saves you 30 cents? Seems some in public office don’t even understand the question. At least act as if they don’t.

It was Plato who said “Those too smart to become involved in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber” And to this day that statement holds true. It holds true, at every level of government. That Plato feller is kinda cool. I think he was a hillbilly, from over there in Breathitt County, up on South Fork, just out of Jackson. I don’t know if Plato knew Lou of not, but I’m sure they’d get along, up there on South Fork, Plato and Lou, they’d get along.

A major shift in the political picture occurred in my home town, North Judson IN last November 8th. For the first time in my memory the position of town clerk has been taken by a republican. It may also be the first time in many, many years that the town board is now controlled by the republican party. The town board is a three member group. One of the democrats on the board was defeated in the November 8th election.

I’m of the opinion the recent election in North Judson is simply a reflection of the overall discontent of we the people with the sorry state of affairs of this country. When that happens, “we’ll vote against ‘em”, we just will. Even those who may have been doing a good job on an individual basis, “we’ll vote against ‘em”. That was the case in North Judson. No complaint against the office holders, but a complaint against the status quo. And so changes were made, were made by the ballot box. It’s the American way. And it’s worked for us for well over 200 years.

It’s interesting to note that during the prior local campaign, those running for the office of town board expressed a desire to expand the town board from 3 members to 5 or 7 members. When they were elected, they forgot that promise. And then the majority party became the minority party. Fascinating conjecture of things that might have been. Those who lose touch with we the people, always loose when it’s time to vote. They just do when we vote.

Unlike this “Occupy Wall Street” movement which seems to be controlled by crazies of our society. Not recognizing the power of the ballot box, these folks appear to believe that pissing on the sidewalk, defecating in public and rioting when McDonald’s doesn’t give ‘em free food is a good way to express public discourse. I propose they’re wrong, and there’s a better way.

I may only be a hillbilly boy who grew up in Downtown Toto Indiana and just so happened to be fortunate enough to have attended both the Tip Top Kentucky Elementary School System and received a masters degree from The Ohio State University, but I do propose the ballot box is a more powerful weapon for political change than public defecating. But everybody knows Do Do Happens, and so it has with the Occupy Wall Street” crowd. Shewwww.

As the year draws to a close my income tax preparation business starts to kick up into high gear. Every year I spend much of the month December revisiting the tax code and the new changes that occur every year. I’m not sure how many million pages of tax code exist, but one thing I do know for sure, if an accountant or tax preparer tells you that they know all of the tax code, you better get a new accountant or tax preparer. With over 10 million words of tax code, it’s impossible for one person to know the total code.

When I come across something I don’t know for sure, I look it up. That’s why people pay me to do what I do, not only for what I know, but to make sure I do it right for those times when I have to use the reference resources to do it right, and so I do. Anyone who believes they know all there is to learn in their chosen profession is simply courting disaster. That statement reminds me of an occasion I observed one time when a very, very ill mannered physician was taught a lesson in life.

One time, years ago, when I was a hospital administrator, It was at a medical staff meeting and the docs got to talking about their ability to diagnose illness. Now we had one feller on that medical staff who gave people the impression he tolerated ‘em only, and didn’t really need any input from anybody on anything, ever.

On that fateful day this doctor made a statement to his peer group saying “I can diagnose 99.999% of all illnesses that walk through my front door”

Once a month I hosted the medical staff luncheon meeting. We’d always use the hospital board meeting room with its big oval table and seating for 18. I sat at one end of the long table, and the senior member of the medical staff at the other end of the table facing me. The doctor making the ridicules statement was seated to my immediate left. Now in that room, it mattered not who was the current “President of the Medical Staff” ‘cause everybody in the room knew, they all just knew, it was the man at the other end of the big table from me that established the demeanor for that medical staff.

Upon hearing the statement of diagnostic ability, the old doctor rose, and slowly walked toward my end of the table. When he got up from his chair, the room became deathly silent.

He slowly walked the distance of the table, stopped behind the doctor setting to my left, tapped him on the shoulder and when the seated doctor looked up, said “Ed, you’re a lying Son of a Bitch, not a doctor on earth can make that statement, and I never want to hear it from you again.” The old doc turned, and with the same speed and resolve, walked back to his seat.

I’ve never heard the sound of silence more overwhelming than was in that room at the moment. After what seemed like hours, but was in fact closer to seconds, 30, maybe 45 at most, finally I said, “Ok guys what else do ya wanta talk about?” The room exploded with laugher. A bullet had not been dodged. A life lesson had been taught.

Now that doc changed his attitude from that day forward with all the rest of my hospital staff, and he never, as long as I remained in that hospital, gave me any more crap like “I’m a doctor and you’re not, so you must do whatever I say.” In fact this doc, from that day forward, avoided me as if I had the plague. I think he was too embarrassed to look me in the eye.

I made it a point every time I could, to meet this man each morning when he arrived at the hospital and would say “Good Morning Dr.” which forced him to glance at me and say “Good Morning Mr. Howard” Usually that was the last time for that day anybody would call me Mr. Howard. Nobody needed to address me as Mr. Howard, not the medical staff, not the hospital employees. They all knew what was my job and what was their job. But that one doctor always said “Good Morning Mr. Howard.” Most all of my hospital staff and the doctors, they all just called me BobbyRay.

I made it a point to be sure and sit beside that doctor at every medical staff meeting. Soon it became so clear to the docs that I was gona sit by this guy, if I happened to be a little late getting to the meeting, there would always be an open seat next to him. Sometimes the most lasting lessons in life are learned the hard way. Taught by an old doctor, from the old school.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing Understanding Big Numbers, Plato’s Position, Local Vote Speak Volumes, Occupy & Crapping On The Sidewalk, Kicking Up The Yearend Business , Learning Life’s Lessons from the Docs.

I wish you well,