Austerity, Washington-style

The fact that "sequestration" will be a drag on the Government's operations may please many people, not least those who have found themselves under federal investigation or pending charges.

But, suppose you ran a company that had to tighten its belt. Would you close the plants, or reduce production of products, that are your most profitable?  Of course not. Then again, you are not the Federal Government that is about to do just that.

Take, for example, the expected slow-down in operations at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission because of Congress' "sequester." Both agencies are a font of revenue from the many millions of dollars that they collect as a result of enforcement cases and settlements. The SEC is even self-funded through its transaction levy while the CFTC, using taxpayers' money, regularly sends back to the Treasury some multiple of that amount each year.

In a democracy, they say, you get exactly what you deserve. It all starts, of course, at the ballot box where we are too often asked to choose between two or more underwhelming candidates. I would suggest that you write to your Senator of Congressman but, unfortunately, our legislators are in recess -- again.

On the brighter side, rumor has it that "sequester" has put a damper on the usual recess practice of "fact-finding" missions to Outer Slobovia or Monte Carlo. It is called "shared pain" until we realize that those junkets are paid for with our tax dollars at no personal cost to the legislators. Imagine: All that free stuff comes with the job! Makes me want to run for office. Well, maybe not.

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