Friday, 24 September 2010

Lost a Billion Lately?

When I joined the Air Force, I came around weekly to balance my checkbook. I knew within $5 how much was in the account. Most everything was done in check form, so it was easy.

By age 28, I was only balancing my checkbook every two to three weeks, and probably was within $40 of knowing how much was in my account. I was starting to use my ATM card twice a week at that point, so it was a bit more difficult to envision my precise amount of cash flow.

By age 35, I was only balancing my checkbook once a month, and I was probably within $150 of knowing how much money was in my account. I used a maximum of two checks a month by that point.

By age 45, I was only balancing my checkbook once every sixty days and probably was within $400 of knowing how close I was on my account. I might have written four checks a year at that point.

Today, I probably tally up my financial life every two weeks, and can predict within $300 how much I have in my account.

We all are changing our habits from what we did years ago. It's ok, as long as we are only managing a couple thousand bucks.

Today, the Virginia state governor came out from an independent audit that he ordered....and now admits that he has over $1 billion in road funds that was never known about.

Shocking.

There were signals that the finance folks of Virginia were really lost on highway funds....so the audit became a necessity.

Now, it's a positive thing because they will dump into road projects immediately.

But there's this question. Was this just a plain screw-up? Did the accounting department just toss the money into an account that nobody knew about? Did the state finance department load up their organization with incompetent people? You just don't know.

It's got to be embarrassing to admit you work Virgina state road finance....and folks just stand there and ask if you lost any billions lately?

This Furlough Idea

There was this odd federal news moment today.  There's a Republican suggestion of requiring all federal workers to take two weeks of unpaid furlough for 2011.  The odds of passing this year?  Zero.  The odds of passing in February of 2011 after the Republican house arrives?  Perhaps fifty-fifty chance.

We sat and discussed the matter around the water-cooler.  Basically, you could invent this in a simple fashion....giving everyone ten days of unpaid leave that you must use.  The neat thing is that you could hang these all on a Monday or Friday....and have another ten 3-day weekends attached to the year.  The negative?  You basically lose 1/26th  of your pay for the year.  Course, the curious thing is that you'd pay less on taxes, and the government would be deprived of its tax revenue from hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

The willingness to do this?  It was an odd thing.  From the five people that I talked to over the whole day....all five were acceptable to this.

I pondered over this and eventually came to agree that I'd settle for the idea.  In fact, I was even thinking of this nifty way of taking furlough Friday and a furlough Monday through two pay periods, and enjoying this nifty four-day weekend.

So we'll all have to settle back and wait for this 2011 dream deal, and see how things turn out.

2012?

I sat and read a forum comment today....where the idea of Hillary resigning early and then running for President in 2012 might occur.  I laughed for a minute, and then pondered upon this idea.

Frankly, we've never had a scenario where the President went into a primary race.....got beat by a challenger, and the challenger won.

Could Hillary carry Iowa and the first five primary states?  This is a odd question.  I think she could carry all six of the first states.  If this occurred....could the President come back?  Maybe.  None of the first six states are really substantial.  You also have to remember the method that the Democrats have their electors lined up.....there are dozens of folks who aren't assigned to states, and have independent votes on their own.  I'm thinking over half of these guys are pro-Hillary.

So it's a odd scenario.

Could the Republicans beat Hillary?  With the choice of Palin or Newt or Romney?  No, I just don't see any of the three doing it.  Chris Christie of New Jersey might be able to.

The odds here?   I'd laugh and give it a one in ten chance presently.  But if you see her visiting Iowa in the spring of next year.....you might want to ask why.