04-06-11-monopoly_board.jpgFor many of us, living within a budget is not a new concept. We do it every day. At my house, I know to the penny how much money comes in, how much goes out and how much wiggle room we have. This is not a new concept, but with the ongoing budget debacle in Washington and in Raleigh, it seems as if it is.

If the majority of us as normal everyday citizens were to run our homes and families the way our political leaders have been running the country, we too would be bankrupt. But most of us tend to understand the concept that you can’t spend what you don’t have (or at least what you can’t afford to pay back).

I think the problem in dealing with the amount of money our government (local and national) deals with is that it ceases to become real and instead becomes more like, oh, I don’t know — Monopoly money.

Think about it. If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you don’t mind paying thousands of dollars on a piece of property that just might pay off for you later in the game. Because in Monopoly if you spend all of your money, you can always sell your land (or in the case of my son, steal money from the bank). In Monopoly, we realize that the money isn’t real, so we act foolishly with it. We gamble on the chance that our ship might come in.

Unfortunately, the leaders we’ve trusted to take care of our nation’s financial well-being have been making the same gamble, but with people who don’t necessarily have our best interest at heart.

When I play Monopoly with my son, if he gets into the hole a little too deep, I give him money from the pot. I don’t see China (our biggest lien holder) being that compassionate. And so instead of taking a proactive approach to our budget woes, our leaders have instead continued to borrow and spend. It’s a vicious cycle that gets you nowhere fast.

It seems that the light bulb has gone on in Washington and Raleigh, but there are still a lot of people in the dark. Don’t believe me? Then why is it April and the United States still doesn’t have an approved budget. Why is it that everyone is watching the clock tick away until April 8 to see if a compromise can be reached or whether or not hundreds of thousands of government employees will go home?

Why is it in Raleigh that instead of sitting down at the table and making realistic cuts and compromises that will benefit the entire state, patisan agendas are being pushed to the forefront?

It kind of reminds me of that old saying — “the light’s on, but nobody’s home.”

So while our political leaders haggle and try to build a compromise that they can live with, teachers are being fired, class sizes are expanding and money that we don’t have is being spent on programs that really haven’t changed anything in the past 65 years.

It’s time for a new approach in the way Americans, and particularly our leaders, look at money.

If you don’t have it, don’t spend it.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.

The clock is ticking.

We all are watching.

This isn’t Monopoly, and the money you are playing with isn’t yours. Spend it wisely, or be gone next year.

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