We all know the federal budget is complex. But come on... if a bunch as diverse (I'm using nice words today) as the United States Congress can figure it all out, I feel pretty good about your average concerned citizen.
Average concerned citizen = most of us...by the way.
While large numbers can have a discombobulating effect on the easily startled person, the federal budget is really no different from your household budget for the most part. Sure, you have to cut and paste a few line tags under the four major categories of:
- What's coming in
- What's going out
- What we have
- What we owe
No really...that's a federal grant to place more poetry in our nation's zoos at the tune of $1 million. Apparently our zoo animals are not cultured enough.
So as you can see, your home budget and the federal budget are basically the same...in principle...sort of.
I use the new sophisticated Mint.com online program to help keep the family finances in order. The program pulls data directly from my 'what's going out' sources and categorizes the expense across my pre-established budget. If I spend too much on, say, eating out at lunch, I get a friendly reminder telling me this once I've exceeded my monthly budget.
Of course in the said example, Mrs. Tony C has been looking for an interface that automatically connects with ediets.com, so they can send me a far less friendly reminder that I'm obviously lying on my journal entries. Luckily, she hasn't found one to date.
But, back to the budget issue. So, I can even create an neat, easy-to-read pie chart that shows my budget, my actual expenditures (what's going out) and the shortfalls at the press of a button. I looked for an easy-to- read pie chart breaking down the proposed 2011 federal budget, and surprisingly, I just couldn't find one! Apparently...there are some significant differences between the federal budget and our personal home budgets after all. Pie just doesn't come that big!
I did find a helpful interactive 2011 federal budget chart at (of all places) the NY Times (NY Times interactive link). It's worth taking a look at...if your Monday isn't aggravating enough already that is.
Now that I actually think about it... I don't think my personal 'what I have' category could ever sustain $1 trillion added to the 'what I owe' side. Maybe that was a stupid analogy after all.