Obviously, the federal budget and the CBO budgeting procedures are complex subjects. No doubt, any brief discussion of them is inherently unfair. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that baseline budgeting and ten-year projections need to go the way of the eight track tape deck before we can understand, much less solve, the really pressing issues created by budget deficits and credit downgrades. It's a complicated problem. The current federal budget is 2,403 pages long. I understand that we live in a big, complicated country, with lots of obligations, but that's only slightly shorter than the latest Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, which is 2,783 pages and contains almost every English word ever spoken. Thankfully, the budget is quite a bit shorter than the U.S. tax code, which is currently clocking in at about 70,000 pages.
Paddy Chayefsky said it best in his brilliant script for the movie "Network." Like the ones most of us remember, these words too are spoken by Peter Finch playing Howard Beale, a once-respected network news anchor:
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a Depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust…We know things are bad— worse than bad. They're crazy. "
That was written in 1974.
Adam Levin is Chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.