Is Tom right to link a balanced budget to “living within your means? Certainly not. An individual might take on debt to buy a car–an unbalanced budget–while still able to pay the bills including the loan payments, thus living within one’s means.
My budget is what it is; the Federal Budget is millions times bigger. That makes it unlikely that what is good for me is good for the Federal Government. Here are some more differences between me and the Federal Government.
- The Federal Government is immortal, I’m not.
- The Federal Government levies taxes, I can’t.
I don’t have much in common with the Federal Government.
Who is “you?” Is it me, anyone, everyone, or what?
I may or may not balance my budget–I may take out a loan to buy a car. I may budget the payments, but the Federal Govt. will be criticized for having an unbalanced budget if they borrow money for any purpose, however worthwhile–another difference. Should the Federal Government balance its budget because I do–that’s ridiculous.
Is the “you” Tom refers to only those individuals who have a balanced budget? That’s silly too–should the Federal Govt. balance its budget because some people do?
Or is “you” everyone? That’s nonsense as well–even if everyone has a balanced budget every year which is certainly false, that’s no reason that the Federal Government should.
In the language of symbolic logic:
- If p = “You balance your budget and live within your means.”
- and q= “Washington should do the same,”
then Tom asserts “if p then q” or “p -> q.” In that case it is also true that “if not q then not p” or “~q -> ~p” (modus tollens) which is if Washington fails to balance its budget, then you should too. More often than not Washington doesn’t balance its budget, so as Tom asserts I/we/you need not either–what nonsense. If I unbalance my budget, I will do so because I want to not because Washington does.
Tom’s flippant claim–You balance your budget and live within your means. Washington should do the same–may be effective political speech, but logically it is nonsense. However Tom has plenty of bad company–the idea that the Federal Government should have a balanced budget in good times and bad is in the proposed 2016 GOP budget, is professed by most if not all the GOP presidential wannabes, and will doubtless be in the GOP platform next year.
© William Hungerford – May 2015