Monday, December 05, 2016

We Have Enough Money, 1: Simply having a HATCHIMAL Xmastime.

To help shake things up, and to avoid the notion that Trump is the only bad thing going on in America right now, I'm going to mix in some We Have Enough Moneys and Bad Republicans and the rest with the ongoing Trumpocalypse.

We Have Enough Money is a protest against those people who say we have to cut the federal budget or restrict social spending or (as Trump and the GOP now appear likely to do) eliminate Medicare.

The federal government in 2016 expects to spend $3,950,000,000,000. We expect to take in $3,340,000,000,000 in tax revenues this year.  As of 8:11 a.m. Central Time today, the US has 325,061,315 people. What that means is that we collect about $10,274.98 per person in tax revenues, and people (not corporations) pay taxes. To make up the difference in revenues, we would need $650,000,000,000 in additional taxes; or, on average, about another $2,000 bucks per person alive in the US -- or $16,000 from a family of 8, like mine (counting the grandkid.) There are 5 taxpayers in my family right now, so if you increased taxes on each of us $3,200, we'd be doing our share to end the budget deficit.  (As I pointed out yesterday, though, there are 268,000 people, roughly, who bring in $1,000,000 or more gross income per year, so if you took, say, $10,000 from each of them and then the rest from us, you'd reduce the burden on middle class people and still make up the deficit, but that's not the point right now.)

The point right now is this: many people will say "it's not fair to take extra money from the rich," because they believe what has been sold as fair, and what has been sold as fair is that everyone should "pay the same amount,"  -- that if you and I and Trump each pay 10% of our income as taxes, that's 'fair,' and even more fair if we all pay just $10,000 -- even though 10% hurts me more than Trump, far more. Take 10% away from someone making $50,000 and year and you leave that person with $45,000 a year to live on. Take 10% away from someone making $1,000,000 per year and you leave that person with $900,000 to live on.

Other people will say they can't afford a tax increase. $3,200 per year in tax increases is $61 per week, so to do my fair share of the deficit I'd have to pay $61 more per week in taxes, and so would every other tax payer in the US.

That's where Hatchimals come in. You may have heard of Hatchimals.  They're the hot toy this year, a sort of pet that hatches from an egg and then has to be cared for, like a Tamagotchi only IRL.  Hatchimals cost about $60 apiece, and are sold out pretty much everywhere you go.

Sales figures for Hatchimals aren't in yet, but going by past toy crazes, we can guess how many were likely sold. In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, 100,000 "Zhu Zhu Pets" were sold by retailers in the first week of December alone. Those sold for $12 apiece, though. 1,000,000 or so "Tickle Me Elmos" were sold at the height of that craze, retailing for $30.

Let's assume people have a finite amount of money to spend on Xmas, so they would only buy half as many "Hatchimals" as they would "Tickle Me Elmos," spending the same amount of money. That's not how Xmas actually works for most people, but let's play pretend.  After all, we're only pretending that most people would read this far into this post anyway.

If we assume that every year people will spend the same amount on the hot toy, and set Tickle Me Elmo as the index, then every year people will spend $30,000,000 on buying a single toy for their kids. And not even a very good toy at that, but that's how much people spend.

That's only nine cents per person, on average, so we don't save very much money if we just have people stop buying "Tickle Me Elmos" and instead pay slightly higher taxes, and the effect is minimal.

But what if we look at what people spend on Xmas as a whole? Our country spends $465,000,000,000 per year on just extras as Xmas: presents and decorations and parties and the like. That's $1,430 per person on Xmas extras per year.  That's nearly one-half the total amount of extra payments it would take just to make up the deficit.

So if you need $3200 per person, one possibility would be to spend just, say, two hundred dollars less on Xmas per person per year.

When we were younger, and dumber, Sweetie and I would go out Xmas shopping a couple times before we'd bought all our presents. We'd get some ideas and then go bum around a mall and stores and buy a bunch of stuff. We bought things like karate lessons, and calendars for the kids, and a bunch of sort of nonsense like that. What kid wants a calendar for Xmas? That didn't stop us from spending $50 buying a calendar for each kid's room.

One year, we said wait, we're spending a lot of money on Xmas, and started using our heads; we sat down to set up a budget for presents, and determine what kind of presents people really wanted, and the end result was that we spent less money, and people were actually (we think at least) happier with the results.

True, there weren't sprawling piles of presents laid out everywhere, but there also weren't boxes of junk hauled to the trash in February, stuff nobody wanted thrown away.

The point isn't, really, to get people to spend less, though. The point is to note that even though everyone says we have no money whatsoever to do something like care for the homeless or keep our national parks running, we have enough money. Any country that spends $30,000,000 on a stupid hatching egg toy that'll be discarded before the end of the year owes its citizens better than we give now.

1 comment:

Andrew Leon said...

I was the kid who wanted a calendar, as long as it was a cool calendar.

We never bought our kids any of the hip toys, but we always ended up with them anyway from some relative or other.
My oldest kid did actually really like his Elmo and so did the second kid who received it after. That was as long as it lasted, though.

My favorite hip toy was Buzz Lightyear, which we also didn't buy but got one, for which I was happy. I wished someone had given one to me.