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NAX: Cutting back on spending sometimes isn't that easy - Odessa American: Columnists

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NAX: Cutting back on spending sometimes isn't that easy

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Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 12:00 am

Like it or not, it’s all about the bucks these days. And that’s probably going to be even more intense as we move forward.

For instance, the crush is on for higher education. Colleges and universities are bracing for the challenges that they expect — including higher tuition, possible cutbacks in staffing and maybe larger classes that would result in less individual instruction.

Meanwhile, the same anticipation can be found for government in general. In Texas, for instance, even some of the conservative newcomers that joined the Texas Legislature are saying that they will look at the revenue-generating possibilities that gambling measures could bring to the table.

In other words, the emphasis is on fiscal issues, which means the morality factor could be compromised somewhat.

Of course, when you’ve got such stuff making headlines, average people are paying attention as well. They’re looking at ways to control their own budget strings.

So maybe you skip a couple of meals out each week. Or you start planning a less elaborate vacation. Some make smaller sacrifices by paring back entertainment choices.

The experts all will say this is bad for the economy. If people aren’t spending at the same levels they were last year, or even last summer, there’s less money floating around in the overall pool.

But is that really a bad thing?

Maybe we’ve all reached a point where we need to be able to operate on a smaller scale. After all, in a lot of cases, that money we’ve been spending actually amounts to numbers on credit card balances. And we’re paying the price each month when the finance charges are added in.

So if we somehow become willing to make personal sacrifices, why can’t we find that attitude elsewhere?

Naturally, the place we need to start — as opinion polls and a lot of disgruntled voters have indicated — involves our elected officials. Somehow convincing the politicians that they don’t need to kick in on every freebie that comes down the pike would be a big step.

For instance, most people who took the time to review recent governmental spending at all levels would be able to find a lot of things that really didn’t need to be done.

This is especially true in federal terms because members of Congress all have pressure to bring home the bucks to their districts. So there are parks and memorials and theaters and all sorts of other projects that end up with tax dollars. Same goes from the state on down to local spending.

Yes, through the years, we’ve all been pretty complicit in accepting such spending. For one thing, it generally means that the so-called quality of life in our communities is enhanced. What’s more, spending of government money, considered by so many as free funding, tends to create jobs and make everybody feel like times are good.

But there’s also a real good chance that efforts toward alleviating some of our fiscal difficulties simply won’t take hold. We want others to whittle while we whistle right along in our normal mode.

And if we’re thinking in that vein, you can bet everybody else, including our officials, have the same thoughts. And that’s the reason why great change isn’t that likely.

Odessa, TX

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