Last week, people started sharing an image on Facebook that claimed to put the budget issues facing our country in perspective by comparing the numbers to a household budget. Just like my last post, that makes sense if you don’t really think about it.
The problem with this analogy is that the situation is far more complex than the comparison allows. For starters, a worker cannot raise his household revenue in the same way a government can. Yes, a family member could work more hours or get a second job, but that’s assuming that the hours or job is available. As many people today will tell you, getting a job, let alone a second job is far from a sure thing. A government, meanwhile, has many ways to raise revenue that are guaranteed.
On the other side, government debt and household debt are vastly different. A government can borrow money at a rate close to zero percent, while a household has to pay a much higher rate. In addition, a government can get far more value for their borrowing than a household can.
That’s not to say that our government does not need to spend less. I’m simply saying that the comparison between a household budget and a government budget is so flawed as to render such a comparison meaningless.
That being said, one can make an easy to understand analogy to help to understand the debt ceiling debate. Here we go.
Pilot pitches for next season:
Cupcake Whores: When their business fails, how can they make money when all they know is baking and fondant?
The Red Badge of Narcissism: Bob telecommutes, and after a particularly bad date, decides to only communicate with the outside world through Facebook.
Minaj a Trois: Nicki Minaj plays all three roommates in a sitcom that takes place inside her head.
Is Petra Nemcova ok?
As Joel Chillner watched a Youtube video of an enormous wave of water inundating Japanese farmland, he vowed that he would do something to help. A minute later, he sat back in his chair, looking in satisfaction at his new Facebook status, in which he said the tsunami “totally sucks” and he “really really REALLY hopes those people are ok, or at least know how to surf.”
Chillner is like many Americans who see disasters unfolding around the world and feel helpless. What can he do from so far away?
Fortunately, the internet has made it much easier for people like Chillner to do something to help people in need, or at least feel like they have done something to help people in need.
I could have just “unliked” a page? Now you tell me!
A while back, scores of my Facebook friends changed their profile picture to a cartoon character, saying that this was raising awareness for child violence. This phenomenon was reported on by many in the media as if it were a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It was not.
I upset some of my friends by pointing out that changing their profile pictures was an example of “slacktivism,” a term which I fervently wish I had coined because it is a perfect way to describe this new trend.
Maybe I’m going to piss people off—maybe I should go back and change the first word of this sentence to “surely”—but this trend of “raising awareness” is becoming increasingly tiresome. For example, I fully support research and treatment for breast cancer. At this point, however, is anyone not aware that breasts are susceptible to cancer? Haven’t we turned over every rock by now and shouted to those slumbering under them, “Excuse me, but I made my Facebook status a sexual joke about where I left my pocketbook that implies that I like to have intercourse in that location.”?
Last week, it was brought to my attention that Geoff Fox, the weatherman at the station I grew up watching, was being let go. Yes, you could say that my awareness was raised. What followed, however, shows just how ridiculous people are becoming with these online protests.
At years end, everyone and their brother (and their sister in non-Islamic countries) write some kind of top ten list. To maintain that tradition, I decided to write a year-end top ten list. Rather than counting down my top ten movies or top ten varieties of cheese, here is my list of ten things that really sucked this year.
Facebook has allowed people to reconnect with people with whom they have lost contact over the years. In some cases, it only takes a day or two to remember why we lost contact with them. While Facebook is a social networking tool with great potential, it also has a tremendous capacity to annoy. Here are some Facebook behaviors that your friends find annoying, even if they won’t tell you. If you do these things, you’re likely not a bad person, but you are unnecessarily annoying people.
It’s Facebook, not YourKidBook. We realize that being a parent is something new and exciting for everyone. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being happy and proud of your children, in fact, it’s great that you care so much about them. However, remember that you feel that way because they’re your children. Do you find yourself thinking, “If only my friends would tell me all about their kids in every Facebook status” or “I wish I got daily pictures of other people’s kids?” No. There’s a reason you don’t think that. Also, you’re not the first person to be pregnant. All that stuff you complain about? It’s happened to every pregnant person ever.
He’s tweeting out of frame.
Ted Kennedy was laid to rest today, and President Barack Obama provided a stirring eulogy, which focused on one of the late Senator’s dying wishes for America. Obama spoke at length of Kennedy’s desire that everyone, both rich and poor, from both upper and lower classes, of all races, had access to quality social networking sites.
“To paraphrase his brother Jack,” Obama said, “Ask not what Facebook can do for you; ask what you can do for Facebook. You say the quizzes are boring? What are you doing to make them better?”
Kennedy believed that all Americans had an inherent right to share the minutiae of their lives with the world. He pointed to programs in other countries that provided Facebook accounts and internet access to all their citizens, something lacking in the United States.
When people who say they don’t need a Facebook account have an extreme emotional event or ordeal in their lives that they need to share with friends online, they are often too emotionally frazzled to set up an account, figure out how the site works, find friends and connect with them. Someone has to help out, creating a sort of “emergency room” environment which isn’t good for anyone.
In just over 200 years, humanity has progressed from the Age of Enlightenment to the Age of Entitlement. We want everything and we want it now. Delayed gratification now means you have to wait 2 minutes for your free pirated movie to download. We as a society need to be constantly validated, both at the personal and professional level.
I certainly am not immune. Most mornings I log into Facebook and immediately look to the lower right hand corner. That’s right. The Red Badge of Narcissism. Surely someone must have been sufficiently amused by some silly comment I made to take the time to reply, validating my wit with a red square. I’m often disappointed when I find out that instead of writing and telling me how funny I am, they’ve merely clicked the “Like this” button, which is the Facebook equivalent of the IM “LOL,” which I would guess is only 1% of the time accompanied by actual audible laughter.
Our online worth is now being measured by how many Twitter followers we have, although again this number is deceiving. I’m still fairly new to Twitter (I did not sign up for a long time soley because of how stupid I think the word “Tweet” is) and I’m learning that some people have a compulsion to follow as many people as they can, likely believing that the person will see that they have a new follower and return the favor - a reciprocal validationary event, as George Carlin would have sarcastically referred to it.
Why is this happening? I’m not sure, although there seem to be a lot of societal forces working in concert. All I know is that I’m going to buy stock in replacement F5 keys.