There is a program on one of the cable channels on which a woman is given a
credit card worth $5,000 to purchase a brand new wardrobe. She does not
have to pay the money back. She does have to follow the fashion rules of
the program’s hosts.
At the end of the program, the woman always looks lovely. She talks about
how wonderful she feels in her new "look". She models several of her new
outfits as the announcer describes each piece and tells the audience its
price tag. Who wouldn’t look lovely with personal fashion consultants and
$200 shoes and $400 blazers?
The problem is that she does not get to take the consultants or the credit
card home with her. So when she has to shop for the next additions to her
wardrobe, using her own money, the $200 shoes becomes a $50 pair, and the
$400 blazer becomes a $70 jacket.
It’s the difference between using your own bank account, and using someone
else’s. With someone else’s nickel, the purchase always looks different. When
we are using someone else’s checkbook, every purchase appears to be a "must
have" item. In politics, the process is often referred to as the ability to
use O.P.M., or Other People’s Money.
Washington has a bad case of O.P.M. Syndrome.
They KNOW that they need to cut spending. They KNOW that the current
situation cannot continue. But every time they look at a particular budget
item, it seems as if that item is a "must have". And so nothing ever REALLY
Instead, one side of the aisle talks about making cuts, but doesn’t actually
pick up the scissors. And the other side of the aisle is of the opinion
that the problem is that they just don’t have enough O.P.M.
As one of the Other People whose Money they are using, I have a few
No more new stuff if a used model is available. Whether we are talking
about cars, office equipment, furniture, or any other item needed to run a
department, the government should be required to purchase ONLY used models.
That’s what most of us Other People are doing since they have taken so much
of our Money. They will still be able to get what they need, but the price
will be lower.
Shred all the credit cards. Every government employee should follow the
same practices that many businesses already use. Employees either pay an
expense personally and then turn in itemized receipts for repayment, or
submit a budget for proposed expenses in advance and receive exactly the
amount on the proposed budget. And of course, items like alcohol are
always a personal expense that cannot be reimbursed. We Other People have
had to cut back on entertainment, so none of our Money should be used to
fund entertainment for the government.
In the fashion program, the person getting to use the O.P.M. credit card has
to accept the rules that go with the funds. It’s time we Other People who
have been supplying the government with the Money that they can’t seem to
stop spending begin to impose a few rules as well.
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