My dictionary has several definitions: 1) The act or process of legally confiscating somebody’s property temporarily until a debt that person owes is paid, a dispute is settled, or a court order obeyed. 2) The seizing of an enemy’s property, or the fact or process of being seized. 3) The act of going into or putting somebody in an isolated place, away from people or everyday pressures, or the fact of being in such a place. 4) The chemical process of binding an ion, especially a metallic ion, in a coordination complex.
I keep hoping official Washington is talking about definition No. 4. But I truly wish those elected officials are using definition No. 3 to describe themselves. Alas, I fear it is No. 1 that is most likely being talked about.
Now, I’m no economist, nor an “ist” of any kind, for that matter, but it seems to me that this sequestration is much ado about very little. The way I read it, sequestration doesn’t mean people and programs are going to see pay cuts. It simply means they may have to wait a little longer than they anticipated to get paid. I believe we’ve had these kinds of situations before where the government either ran out of money or the debt ceiling had to be raised and there were some furlough days involved for the fine folks who run our bureaucracies. But I’m pretty sure everybody eventually got all the money promised to them.
Deferred payment is actually a very common occurrence among many of us in the private sector who are self-employed or run small businesses. It often takes clients many moons to pay for services rendered or products delivered. Around my house, we refer to those as peanut butter and jelly days. Sometimes, it can be peanut butter and jelly weeks too.
So, correct me if I’m wrong, but, in essence, isn’t sequestration simply the art of looking like you’re saving money or cutting services or trying to balance the budget with less spending, when in actuality you’re just postponing payments?
Hmmm. I wonder if that would work with my mortgage company? As far as I know, the government doesn’t incur any monetary penalty for putting off payments. If it did, it would simply be We the People paying the bill. If the Feds can get away with it, why not Mr. and Mrs. America?
“Dear (LENDER’S NAME HERE), In honor of National Sequestration Month, I have decided not to pay you this month, and I may withhold next month’s installment as well. Don’t look for the money anytime soon. It may take me a half a year or so before I decide to fund your little lending operation again.”
That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? There’s an implied promise the lender will get its money at some unspecified time in the future. I’ve just chosen to create a furlough month or two for them. And, much like the government, I don’t expect to pay any additional interest on these prospective upcoming payments.
If I heard reports correctly, it seems there is a statute that says any reduction in pay or furlough days for federal employees requires a 30-day notification. So even a March 1 sequestration date really means it could be the first part of April before bureaucrats see as much as a farthing missing from a paycheck.
Just as the Defense Department, social programs and other congressional creations may not feel the sting of sequestration right away, I’m thinking my mortgage company will be able to manage nicely on others’ fees and charges for quite some time as well before my contribution to the cause ever so slightly dings the bottom line. As a matter of fact, mine may only manifest itself in something like the substitution of domestic caviar for the Russian good stuff at one noontime repast in the Executive Dining Room.
I might not pay the electric bill or the phone company for awhile either. Maybe even tell the credit card folks and the car financers that I’m sequestering their funds for a few months as well. Surely what’s good for Washington is also good for constituents. Anybody have a problem with that?
Bill Lewis is a freelance writer in Marietta.