Last week Ted Coine asked ‘what ever happened to the Common Good?’ At some point people stopped doing the right thing and started putting their individual selfish interests ahead of those of their organizations, countries or kingdoms: UBS, the nation of Greece, Queen Cersei, etc.
These days we see squabbling in Washington over the budget because no one wants to do the right thing for the country. Everyone talks to the hand about cutting costs so long as it is not in their backyard.
Just read Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Oklahoma) new report on wasteful government spending issued this week to learn about the $936,000 spent to stimulate online soap operas or $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettia. Dr. Coburn writes: “Over the past 12 months, politicians argued, debated and lamented about how to reign in the federal government’s out of control spending. All the while, Washington was on a shopping binge, spending money we do not have on things we do not absolutely need. Instead of cutting wasteful spending, nearly $2.5 billion was added each day in 2011 to our national debt, which now exceeds $15 trillion.”
What happened to spending for the Common Good?
For those of you who believe $75,000 is not material when compared to $2.5 billion I say shame on you. It’s all those small, stupid expenses that add up. When times are tough at home we stop buying $5 lattes and eating out and shift our spending to what we need and make peanut butter sandwiches every day. (See Maslow.)
Finally, in A Game of Thrones, when Ned Stark became the Hand, King Robert wanted to hold a jousting tournament to honour the new Hand. But when Stark met with his council and learned that the kingdom was practically bankrupt Ned insisted that they don’t hold the tournament as they could not afford it. And besides, he didn’t want it.
The point I am trying to make is that anyone can spend money; but it takes a strong, responsible leader like Ned Stark to not spend it and make the tough decisions for the Common Good.