There was a sad little story on page A 7 of yesterday's editions of The Washington Post. It was about cutting government spending.
I have been reading such stories since Franklin D. Roosevelt ran on an economy platform. The Carter administration also began with promises to reduce federal spending and taxes. The new president told his management and budget people to search out government agencies that could be eliminated, and for more than a year they worked diligently on the project.
Now they have presented their "hit list" to the president. It consists of three small agencies that can be eliminated - at an annual saving of $100,000.
The government spent some money to compile this list of expendable agencies, but we are not told how much. The job might have cost 10 cents or $10 or $100,000.
Inasmuch as we cannot estimate how much, it any, net saving will result from killing off these three agencies, there is really not much point in going to the trouble of figuring out exactly how much an individual taxpayer might benefit from such cuts.
However, if you assume that the cost of identifying the three agencies was 10 cents, the net saving to taxpayers would be $99,999.90.
My curbstone guess is that if you pay $50,000 a year in income taxes to support our $532 billion budget, your share of the $99,999.90 would be less than a penny. If you pay less than $50,000 a year, your share of the saving would be proportionately less.
One assumes (perhaps "hopes" would be a better word) that the project to eliminate unnecessary spending will continue, and that from time to time other cuts will be suggested.
It won't be easy to get approval for cuts because every penny the government spends is of benefit to somebody. The beneficiary does his best to keep his pet program alive.
The task of reducing spending will also be complicated by the inescapable fact that government are ponderous.They move slowly and erratically. For all we know, it has already cost us $200,000 to find out how to save $100,000.
So, as Gordon Barnes might say, my forecast for our chances of trimming government spending are mostly cloudy today, with possible scattered cuts followed by slowly rising taxes - and tempers.
A few days ago, I wrote a sentence that began, "If you think I'm a frightened old woman who is overstating the dangers of gasoline . . . ."
Carolyn Silver of Charlottesville wants to know whether I couldn't have changed that to "frightened old man." She says even her 94-year-old father has been able to break himself of using terms like "weak sister" to indicate a lack of courage or strength.
Carolyn's complaint is valid, and I apologize for using the term. Many of the words and phrases that seem without malice to men who use them (e.g.: "little old lady in tennis shoes") are offensive to women who hear them. We men need to be reminded, politely, I hope, and often enough to help us break some old habits. When I was 94, I might have been better able to adjust to changing times, Carolyn, but now that I'm getting on in years, it's not so easy.
LIFE IS LIKE THAT
Reference to Carolyn's father reminds me of a note from Jean A. McFadden of Burke.
She says her husband of 40 years "can remember who sat behind him in the second grade but not where he put something yesterday."
Another juvenile! At my age you can't even remember whether you attended the second grade.
WE MAID A MISTEAK
Al Moe of Arlington found this little gem in our "Today's Horoscope" column the other day:
"TAURUS (Apr. 20 to May 20) Get your books in order and don't mail out any letters unless you go over them carefully to possible errors."
Question: Is Carroll Righter, who writes Today's Horoscope, a Taurus? Or is the typesetter?
Personal note to Sid Yudain, publisher of Capitol Hill's weekly newspaper, Roll Call: It grieves me to inform you that this week's and last week's editions of Roll Call have just arrived - in the same mail delivery. If a man who knows every congressman can't get good service, what's the prospect for the rest of us?
AIN'T IT THE TRUTH?
Herm Albright's summary of the gas shortage: "You can fuel some of the people some of the time, but you can't fuel all of the people all of the time."