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A Tale of Two Spending Sprees

A Tale of Two Spending Sprees

July 9th, 2012 // 9:25 pm @

Matthew Dowd said on ABC that for the last twenty years both parties have been big spenders.

One, he summarized, is the party of cutting taxes and spending more from Washington, the other is the party of raising taxes and spending more from Washington.

This says just about all we need to know about the problem.

Government is too big, and though the parties debate about where to spend more money (international affairs versus domestic entitlements), both keep pushing for more spending.

The current attitude in Washington reminds me of an old story told in some economic circles about the young man who grew up in the lap of luxury created by his father’s lifelong hard work.

As the man reached adulthood, his father cut him off from family money and told him he’d have to get a job or start a business and make his own way.

The boy approached his best friend, who with his own parent’s money had participated in the wasteful spending sprees over the years, and together they strategized how to get his father’s money without the “ridiculous” idea of going to work.

They settled on a plan, and on the day the boy was cut off from Dad’s money he went to his friend’s house, they went mountain climbing together, then swimming, and at 5:30 pm the friend handed the boy $200 and he went home to show his father.

When the dad asked how the first day of work had gone, the boy said work was hard but he had earned some money—then he showed off the $200.

The father walked over to the boy, took the money from his hand, turned, walked over to the fireplace and threw the money into the fire.

The boy was surprised, and didn’t know what to say.

“You are lying to me,” the father said. “You didn’t earn that money. Now go get a job.”

The boy and his friend brainstormed what to do. “Maybe you didn’t look like you had really worked,” the friend suggested.

So, the next day, the boy left early in the morning and the two friends went boating for the day.

At 5:30, the boy dressed in old work clothes, wiped dirt on his face and hands, and took his friend’s additional $200 to show his dad how hard he had worked.

The father listened to his son’s story, then walked over, took the cash, and threw it into the flames.

“You are still lying,” he said. “Now, grow up and go get a job.”

After a fruitless planning session, the friend told the boy in frustration, “I don’t know how he knows, but maybe the only solution is for you to actually get a job.”

The boy was getting hungry, though he ate during the days with his friend, and his dad mentioned that he needed to start paying rent or move out. So, the next day, the boy went out to found a job. He walked to the industrial side of town and stood in a line for odd jobs, and ended up shoveling gravel for nine hours.

Exhausted when he got home after 7 pm, the boy dragged his body through the front door and headed for bed.

“Come here, son,” his father called, so he walked into his father’s office.

“How was work today?” his father asked.

“”Good. I earned $85.”

“You’re still lying,” the father said.

Then he walked over, took the money from the boy’s hand, and turned toward the fireplace.

The boy leaped in front of his father, grabbed the cash from him, and said firmly, “Don’t you dare burn that money!”

The father smiled. “Ah…you actually earned this, didn’t you?”

Thomas Paine famously said that heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods, and that something as valuable as freedom must have a very high cost.

The same is true of money.

Ten dollars that a person earned through hard work has much more value to him than ten dollars somebody else just gave him.

Government money is other people’s money, and until the citizens fulfill their role (far beyond voting) of closely watching government, the spending will continue.

Category : Aristocracy &Blog

6 Comments → “A Tale of Two Spending Sprees”

  1. Ken Hendon

    11 years ago


    Understanding the direct connection between our money and our effort, even our time on earth, is, perhaps, the beginning of economic wisdom.

    Have you read MUDAMMAD YUNNUS, BANKER FOR THE POOR? Yunnus , a wealthy econ prof, saw that connection when a man died of starvation on his door step. Hundreds of thousands of “poor” people have benefited from his understanding of true economics.

    Thanks for your efforts to educate us in true economics!

  2. David Crowther

    11 years ago

    Well said. Love your articles, keep going!

  3. Ammon Nelson

    11 years ago

    I have noticed another important factor in understanding the true value of a dollar is not just working for it, but in feeling how the lack impacts one’s life. It is not only how hard one works, but how much one wants to avoid the consequences of not having it that impacts the value of a dollar on the mind.

    This is evidenced in the amount of attachment many special interest groups have to the public funding they receive and how much they are willing to work and fight to not have it taken away.

    Learning the value of work, without feeling the pain of “need” can create a feeling of superiority and lack of gratitude for how much others assist you in your pursuit of the dollar; while feeling the impact of “need” without learning the value of work can create an entitlement mentality. Both an understanding of the value of working for what you receive and an understanding of the feeling the “need” for help are important in understanding the value of a dollar.

  4. Kris Bayer

    11 years ago

    I was thinking the other day that my kids do not see the value of money, or my time or using my car, etc. As I was reading something from Leanard Read I remembered the pilgrims attempt at communism. As soon as everyone was responsible for their own plot of land, they decided to work so they did not starve. I think there is great value in earning and keeping your own money.

    I still think that our own money should be voluntarily given to the controllers rather than forcefully taken thru taxation! Until the leadership arises from the people, we will not see the great change that is needed. my opinion

  5. Ammon Nelson

    11 years ago

    I absolutely agree that our property (including money) should only be obtained by voluntary contribution rather than taxation. If taxation were as voluntary as the principle of tithing, I would object to a lot less of what the government does.

    If government were held to the standard that they had to earn the trust of those from which they obtain their funding there would be a lot less corruption, a lot less waste, and a lot more thrift in government.

    A big part of earning something is in learning it’s value. I don’t truly earn my wife’s love until I have learned it’s value in my life and have felt the danger of what would happen if I didn’t have it. Money is just an outward manifestation of how we value things. Currency sometimes, because it is tangible and real value is not, get’s mistaken to be money. Money is much more than the tangible currency. In every interaction and relationship there is money involved. It is only in commercial transactions that the mistake is made that only the dollars and cents are exchanged.

  6. Ammon Nelson

    11 years ago

    As I was attending a City Counsel meeting a few years ago, and having a conversation with one of the counsel members during a break, he mentioned to me how ironic it is. People come to city counsel and demand that the city do more of this and more of that, but when it comes to paying for it, they don’t want to pay more taxes to pay for the things they want done.

    Not only to citizens need to be more watchful of their government officials, they also need to stop wanting government to be the solution to all of their problems.

    Too often we try to pass laws or sue somebody when something doesn’t go the way we plan. We need to be more proactive at solving problems at their source by talking to each other to solve problems.

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