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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How to balance the budget and save the world

It's so simple, really. Remember the 1993 movie Dave starring Kevin Klein and Sigourney Weaver? Klein played the role of both President Bill Mitchell and his exact look-alike, Dave Kovic.

Synopsis (thanks to IMDb): Bill Mitchell is the philandering and distant President of the United States. Dave Kovic is a sweet-natured and caring Temp Agency operator, who by a staggering coincidence looks exactly like the President. As such, when Mitchell wants to escape an official luncheon, the Secret Service hires Dave to stand in for him. Unfortunately, Mitchell suffers a severe stroke while having sex with one of his aides, and Dave finds himself stuck in the role indefinitely. The corrupt and manipulative Chief of Staff, Bob Alexander, plans to use Dave to elevate himself to the White House - but unfortunately, he doesn't count on Dave enjoying himself in office, using his luck to make the country a better place, and falling in love with the beautiful First Lady...

I thought the real fun part was when 'Dave,' who had stepped into the role of the conniving president, unbeknown even to the first lady (who couldn't tell them apart), asked his friend, accountant Murray Blum to come to the White House late one evening. Blum, played really well by Charles Grodin, showed Dave how he could easily and simply shave money from the federal budget so the First Lady's pet project, a day-care center for disadvantaged kids, could continue. (If you are not with me, then you haven't seen the movie... which is really, a must-see.)

Anyhow, it was a piece of cake for Dave to 'find' millions of dollars (remember, this is 1993 when a million dollars went further) allocated to pork projects that he diverted, thus saving the day... and winning the surprising admiration of the First Lady by this uncharacteristic benevolence.

Well, that is one way... but then since when has congress ever 'saved' a dollar, let alone a million... or billion or trillion? (Hey U.S. Government... my hardware store is selling wrenches and toilet seats for the space program for half-off... only $8,700 each.) But here's another.

As I was reading the morning news, I saw that in the United States, 10 people a day loose a finger to a table saw. Gross! That comes to 3,650 1/4 fingers per year, not allowing for double-digit loss. (Get it? Double-digit loss... )  Anyhow, the Consumer Public Safety Commission estimates these losses cost our economy $2 billion annually in lawsuits alone. (Read my story on this.)        

Now that is $2 billion dollars... or about $550,000 per finger. Remember that number.

Another story told about the time and fuel wasted as we sit idle in our cars in traffic tie-ups on expressways. It averages, in the big cities, 70 hours per year per driver... at an estimated cost in fuel, lost productivity and time of $115 billion dollars.

In the same paper, the feature story was on our increasing use of social media... Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. and the enormous amount of data that is thrown our way to digest... much of it when we are at work. The loss of time and production was estimated at a staggering $650 billion dollars and increasing daily!

Are you with me here? If we can all agree to stop cutting off our fingers on table saws, keep the peddle to the metal instead of sitting willy-nilly in traffic and use all forms of social media between 9-pm and 7-am instead of when we are working, we save $767 BILLION DOLLARS annually! Can't we do without sleep to save our country?

My God... that is pretty close to a trillion dollars--give or take some loose change, which can probably be found in the cushions of the couches of America-- in savings! Maybe we can build that day care center for underprivileged children after all... just like in the movie.

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