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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Love and Money


Considering our financial messes

“Can't buy me love, no. Everybody tells me so. Can’t buy love, no. No, no, no, no ...”

Go on. You know the rest of the verse, and can finish singing it. The Beatles did. Sales of their single, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” reached sales of $1 million in 1964. And they were right on point, after all.

But that doesn’t keep money or our compulsion to buy stuff from getting intermingled with love.

We often feel guilty about what we have done, and cannot do, because of money, and then some worry that they will not be loved if we don’t spend.

Money, many hope, will make everything OK, even if it means draining their wallet.

Maybe you have felt guilty about not spending more time with a loved one or showing your appreciation for them – so you purchase them an expensive birthday gift.

But instead of an expensive gift, you know most people really prefer a thoughtful one, such as your time, cooking them a dinner or writing a letter.

Or maybe you reluctantly (over and over) loan money to a family member who always seems to be in one financial only making things worse.

And if you are not dealing with the issues, like entitlements at the federal level or nearly $10 billion in checks mailed from Baton Rouge at the state level, to outside consultants hired by

our state government, then more money (or tax revenue) just means more spending.

Did you know, in the year before Hurricane Katrina, total state spending was $16.5 billion? And then, after Katrina, and after an infusion of federal aid, total state spending nearly doubled?

Spending increased to $28.6 billion, according to the Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office, and it continues to grow today, even 10 years after Katrina.

And now, Governor John Bel Edwards is proposing the largest tax increase in Louisiana history, despite so many of us knowing that simply spending more almost never addresses the problems that needed to be fixed in the first place.

As Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy said, “I know my colleagues. Their mantra (is): ‘We’re just one tax increase away from prosperity.’ I’m not buying it.”

And we shouldn’t either. It’s easy to spend other people’s money, but you crisis after another, even though what they really need is help creating a budget to better manage their money, instead.

No, no matter how much politicians may care about us, and therefore want to expand government to show they ‘care,’ if they are not addressing the source of our problems, then they are no better than the compulsive shopper ... ”

Simply put, spending more money hardly ever addresses the heart of the matter.

But that doesn’t keep us from trying, though, does it? In fact, spending is soaring – consumer credit card debt is $712 billion – that’s $15,355 per household. And our U.S. government has a budget deficit this year of $616 billion. Our country has spent, and now owes $19.4 trillion – which divides up into $59,000 owed by every man, woman and child.

Consider our state government, too.

Our Louisiana state government has a budget deficit of nearly $1 billion this year – and next year we’ll face a $2 billion financial shortfall. Goodness.

Of course, our debt problem only grows worse each year, while too many legislators, both in Washington and in Baton Rouge, are willing to put off correcting the course we’re on rather than to contemplate the pain of cutting back and reducing spending. Like a man addicted to his credit card, the government keeps spending and spending, even though it realizes it’s

eventually you run out of other people’s money, as it was once so famously said by Margaret Thatcher.

In fact, there will be a time where there is no more money to borrow, despite government’s natural tendency to expand.

There will be a time where more tax revenue simply won’t address our needs, and the fact is, in most instances, it never did and never could in the first place.

No, no matter how much politicians may care about us, and therefore want to expand government to show they “care,” if they are not addressing the source of our problems, then they are no better than the compulsive shopper who thinks the solution to his or her issue is simply more income, or the gambler who just wants to play one more hand to make it all back.

Considering our financial messes in both Baton Rouge and Washington, that’s a bet none of us should be willing to make.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by email at louisavallone@mac.com.


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