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LARCENY: A CONSISTENTLY BIPARTISAN INITIATIVE What if you woke up tomorrow morning and read - or more likely heard Dan Blather say on the Evening News -- that the Federal Government is out of money? That’s right, plumb out! as my Uncle Elbert would have said. Kaput! Se habla no dinero! What a terrifying thought, huh? Our Markets would go first followed by a Great Depression style run on the no-longer-insured banks. Other World economies would quickly follow because they own too many shaky dollars and have too large a presence in this, the largest of all consumer bazaars on the planet. Bereft of the world’s only policeman, capricious and arbitrary though he might be, dime store despots everywhere could run amok. With the United States in ruins, the Arabs and Israelis would have to actually duke it out in an internecine Sons-of-Sem shootout, and the French would have to go back to despising the English and the Dutch. Without money in the US coffers, our world is well and truly over is it not? But wait. I forgot -- and this is something that is frequently forgotten by politicians and their constituents alike - the Federal Government really doesn’t have any money of its own. It never has. When a bill comes due, as it does every day of course, Uncle Sam just picks your pocket to pay it. Yes, you! Don’t look over your shoulder. If the bill is higher, he just digs a little deeper. No big deal. Nor is it a recent phenomenon. Almost fifty years ago, Everett Dirksen said it best: “A billion here and a billion there starts to add up to some real money.” It was a very revealing Freudian slip. He wasn’t kidding. And, as I am sure one of our current legislators would be quick to add, that was back when a billion dollars was worth something. Also, regardless of what Republicans would have you believe, this is not a partisan issue. They are just as anxious and willing to strip you naked as the Democrats and even less likely to give you any back unless there’s an oil lease in it somewhere. But even that differentiation is splitting hairs. My checkbook can find no substantive difference between them. Whether that buck was stolen from me by one party or the other, the fact is that I’ll get a couple pennies benefit from a road that I can drive on and some interstate commerce that they’ve over-regulated, and of course, the unbridled joy of watching the bombs that I bought obliterate various backward cultures around the world. The other 98 cents goes toward buying them another term in office. Depending on their affiliation, they will be writing their checks to labor unions or oil companies or farmers or steel manufacturers. Some of them will pay poor girls to grow babies and others will pay rich guys not to grow wheat. Either way I’m picking up the tab for something I’m not very sympathetic about and I don’t see that choosing one party’s spendthrift over another is going to do me any personal good. So I’ve decided how to decide on my next vote. I’m going to vote for the first candidate, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, who looks embarrassed about it. That’s all -- just embarrassed. Nothing abject or grand - just a sheepish smile or a blushing refusal to meet my gaze as they’re elbow deep in my pocket. I’m practicing it myself. That’s the same red-faced look I’m going to give back to them in a dozen years or so when they’ve bankrupted Social Security and my monthly medical coverage is two thousand dollars and they reach into my hip pocket for more. Sorry. Plumb out!

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