I’m a Judge Judy fan, and I watch her TV show often.
I admire her remarkable common sense, a rare commodity today.
One aspect of American life where common sense seems to have nearly vanished is when it comes to spending.
Recently, I was left dumbfounded by a woman on the Judge Judy show. A mother of several small children, the poor lady had recently lost her job. She received a modest severance package of about $15,000.
Instead of clinging to the cash, she proceeded to take her kids and boyfriend on vacation to a popular resort.
The trip depleted more than half of her severance pay.
What was she thinking?
It’s difficult to know for sure, but one can easily surmise that her decision was based on emotions, not logic.
She was trying to feel good during a very bad situation.
Her appearance before Judge Judy was to sue the now ex-boyfriend to reimburse her for part of the trip.
Judge Judy dismissed her case.
Sadly, there’s the example of a relative of mine. He was a schoolteacher and a resolute bachelor. I always admired his frugality. Even on a relatively low teacher’s salary, he was able to save for vacations to Bali, Taiwan and Tokyo. His house was filled with neat stuff collected from around the world. He was living the dream. Or so I thought.
As it turned out, when he filed for bankruptcy he had more than $75,000 in credit card debt and a huge house he couldn’t afford on a meager teacher’s pension. Much of his fleeting happiness was attained through instant gratification made possible by credit cards and avoiding the payment of his debts.
Needless to say, his retirement hasn’t delivered the gratification he had hoped for.
Instead, his golden years have yielded little more than pain and depression. What was he thinking?
Then there are the desperate people I observe in my local community. These folks, some of whom probably don’t know where their next meal will come from, line up daily to purchase lottery tickets at local gas stations and grocery stores. Many have reached such low points that striking it rich in the lottery is the only hope they have.
Until recently, there was a lottery store next door to the fitness center where I work out. It is closed now. Frequently, as I jogged on a treadmill, I observed cars parking in the fire lane while the driver or a passenger, mostly senior citizens, went inside to purchase tickets. I have seen people using walkers shuffle inside to purchase a lottery chance.
What were they thinking?
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has convinced many of its citizens that playing the lottery is fun. It even has a cute, robotic groundhog named Gus making lottery commercials intended to convince the good citizens that the state lottery is something other than a voluntary tax on those who play. Pennsylvania also sanctions casinos that have made the state second only to Nevada when it comes to gambling revenues. Has blowing money in a casino suddenly become a good thing?
This brings us to the world of national politics, where reckless spending has become the status quo for Capitol Hill politicians. Please explain to me why any honest member of Congress might disapprove of having a balanced budget.
Name one negative aspect of balancing the budget.
Before you answer, think about your own budget. Have you any reason to believe that spending more than you earn will secure a comfortable future for you? If you said yes, I respectfully request that you book a seat on the next flight back to your planet of origin.
What are you thinking?
With the exception of gas prices, health-care costs are probably getting more attention than any other topic in the current presidential election contest. In the health-care realm, two adages apply:
“You get what you pay for, and “You pay for what you get.” There’s no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to government. Government run health care is no exception.
If the government guarantees universal health care, then it must guarantee tax increases or other measures to pay for it. Americans can no longer afford instant gratification from government, especially when it comes to health care.
Before implementing a universal health-care system, we need to re-evaluate how we spend health-care dollars.
For example, according to the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than one-quarter of Medicare expenditures are spent on beneficiaries in their last year of life. Unfortunately, while many Americans would like to have a government guarantee against death, everyone is going to die.
Discussions about so-called government death panels that decide how health care is rationed are important. How Americans spend their final year of life should be a matter for extensive public debate.
Just as citizens fund the lottery, they are going to fund universal health care. Americans must decide if it is better to spend what often amounts to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to prolong the lives of those who are dying or to spend lesser amounts to ensure their final days are spent comfortably and with dignity.
Unfortunately, you have to look far and wide to find a politician willing to entertain a debate on this or any other tough health-care issue. They will say anything to placate voters, but they won’t deliver the promised gratification.
Americans deserve an honest debate about the costs, both moral and financial, of universal health care. It will be expensive and somebody will have to pay for it, whether it is administered through government programs or private enterprise.
Zachary Hubbard is a freelance writer residing in Upper Yoder Township. He is a member of The Tribune-Democrat Reader Advisory Committee.
I’m a Judge Judy fan, and I watch her TV show often.
- Zachary Hubbard
Zachary Hubbard | Some actions defy explanation
Like a poorly delivered joke that leaves a comedian’s audience waiting for the punch line, there are scores of factors about American society that make me moan, “I don’t get it.” Sometimes it seems as if we Americans are losing our minds. I see evidence of this every day.
Zachary Hubbard | Obama should study Powell Doctrine
During his tenure as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin Powell elaborated on eight questions he believed should be considered before committing U.S. military forces to war.
Zachary Hubbard | EPA taking jobs, hope from coal country
I just returned from a visit to my birthplace in Harlan County, Kentucky, which lies in the southeast corner of the state.
Zachary Hubbard | Random thoughts on politics, our money
Lately, the news has contained more baloney than usual. Let’s start with Ukraine, where I left off last time.
Zachary Hubbard | Obama's diplomacy pickle: Crimea crisis
With all of the political pundits piling on about the current crisis in the Ukraine, I’m puzzled that I have yet to hear anyone seriously discuss Russia’s Near Abroad policy.
Zachary Hubbard | Federal contracting system broken, out of control
I’ve been feeling surly. It started several weeks ago when Congress passed legislation making large cuts in the annual cost-of-living pay adjustments for active and retired military personnel.
Zachary Hubbard | It was so cold ...
Late last night I got a phone call from a friend stationed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. He told me that since early morning, the snow had been coming down steadily.
Zachary Hubbard | Throwing veterans under the bus
Americans love honoring their military veterans. They cheer loudly for troops returning home from combat zones in far away countries; they hold veterans’ parades and decorate veterans’ graves; and they walk up to veterans and thank them for their service. Unfortunately, most of the honors end there.
Zachary Hubbard | Republican Party is in need of a facelift
Thirty-nine House Democrats facing re-election in 2014 recently jumped ship and sided with Republicans to vote for changes in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Zachary Hubbard | For military brats, Germany was a magical place
A long chapter in U.S. history is closing. The once behemoth U.S. military forces in Germany are slowly withdrawing. In April, the last Army tanks were shipped home, marking the first time in almost
70 years there were no American tanks on German soil. While most Americans would consider this a political development, for some of us, it’s quite personal.
- More Zachary Hubbard Headlines
- Zachary Hubbard | Some actions defy explanation