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MLA Full: "Hey! You! Fix the Budget!" YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 15 November 2010,
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Fix the Budget: Pizza shirts:

In which John discusses the New York Times's web-based application allowing each of us to examine the extent and complexity of the United States federal budget deficit and the difficulty of balancing the budget. Do we increase taxes or cut spending? Or, more plausibly but less politically viable, both raise taxes and lower spending? Also there is some talk of pizza shirts.

Thanks to Karen Kavett for the graphics:


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A Bunny
( - -)
((') (')
Good morning Hank, it's Monday. So yesterday I was reading the newspaper- this is a newspaper, Hank, it's like the internet only it doesn't update, it's not interactive, it's printed on very thinly sliced trees, and it's not free. It's a wonder these guys are having trouble staying in business.

So I was reading the newspaper because I am an old person, and I saw a headline that said 'O.K., You Fix The Budget'! Then at first I was like 'That's a really good idea, we should turn American Fiscal Policy over to a young adult novelist who is currently wearing his face on his torso.

Which reminds me, Hank, at long last the famed pizza shirt is back, it is in stock at which means if you order it today it ships tomorrow- at least until we run out. So Nerdfighters if you like me, mustaches, pizza, and your torso, you should bring those things together; there's a link in the dooblydoo.

Right, but so the New York Times wanted me to solve the budget crisis and they created a web-based tool to help me do so (And no, the budget tool does not have a liberal bias), so you can go on there and click which taxes you want to raise and what spending you want to cut and find a way to balance the budget.

So here is the astonishing thing, Hank; if America did everything the Democratic leadership is proposing in the way of raising taxes, we would still have a huge budget deficit. And if we did everything the Republican leadership is proposing in terms of spending cuts we'd still have a huge deficit. That's not the astonishing thing. The astonishing thing is that if we implemented all the Democratic tax increases and all the Republican spending cuts we would still have a huge deficit.

Alright, so here is a radical over-simplification of the current federal balance sheet. As you can see the vast majority of the federal budget goes to social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Department of Defense. That 'other' by the way includes other mandatory spending programs, the biggest chunk of which is unemployment insurance.

So, maybe you cut all of Social Security, or all of Medicare, or all of Medicaid, or just eliminate our army.

Okay, so putting aside the fact that none of that will ever happen because we're not going to eliminate our army and we're no going to eliminate social security or Medicare because old people vote and old people like that stuff; if we for instance eliminated Medicare we wouldn't actually decrease the federal budget by the amount shown there because old people would still get sick and need care and some of them wouldn't be able to pay for it and we would end up eating the cost somehow.

So to those of you who say there is an easy solution, I disagree.

So Hank, I can make an argument as I have in the past that pennies are stupid and they cost us hundreds of millions of dollars a year and we should get rid of them because they're idiotic.

And that's true, but the penny wouldn't actually solve the deficit crisis that we have coming. So the great thing about this New York Times app, which I encourage you all to check out, is that it makes it clear that it won't be easy. And I think what most people people will find, and certainly what I found, is that there are things that I would like not to cut that still need to be cut and taxes that I would like not to be raised that still need to be raised.

Which is really the case with any budget, like when I draw out my budget, I always find that there are things I would like to do that I can't do, like for instance purchase this dress, instead I have to photo shop myself into it. And there are things that generate revenue that I don't necessarily want to do them (text: selling my books to Hollywood).

Alright Nerdfighters, so the non-rhetorical question of the day; using this app in the dooblydoo, were you able to balance the federal budget and how?

Fortunately Hank, tomorrow I'm leaving for a week in Europe where they have all this stuff figured out. What's that? Really? Actually it turns out the deficit projections for most developed economies look a lot like this, so... yeah.

Hank, I gotta go pack for Europe, I'm doing some events in Amsterdam and Vienna, there's information about that in the dooblydoo and also up in the digabuhr.

But before I go, do I have one really good piece of news; if I've learned anything from my introduction to federal budget deficits, it's that we need more mathematicians in places of power. And Brotherhood 2.0 resident mathematician and future state representative Daniel Biss is now a state representative elect! YES! NERDFIGHTERS! We're goin' to Congress! ... State Congress, BUT STILL!

Hank, I'll see you on Wednesday.

Uh, okay, post-script, I just had to go buy diapers and wipes at the grocery store, and the guy checking out the diapers was looking at my shirt, and then he looked to me, and he was like "Is that... you?" And I was like, "Yes. Yes it is."