Replay 453: Budgeting

All this week, we’re replaying five episodes about different facets of being in the USA. For more of an explanation on why, see the 4th of July message. Today’s replay is 453: Spending Priorities.


Full episode script

Budgeting is far from fun, at least for many people. It’s where the metaphorical rubber meets the road when it comes to putting your ideals, principles, and priorities into a concrete plan. Usually, the resources identified as available aren’t enough to fulfill all of the priorities and plans that one may have. Which means that tough trade-offs are inevitable.
If you’re dealing with $10,000 or 10 billion dollars, the fact that prioritization is necessary. How a governmental body choose to both raise money and spend it is a direct reflection of their values — perhaps not the values that they state, but what functionally are the values.
As Meg Webb wrote in The Mercury about Tasmania’s budget in 2016, quote:

Most of us are not economists or policy experts. It can be intimidating to get past the mechanics and language of the budget to find the values at its core.
It can be difficult to decipher what is fact and what is spin. Throw into the mix fearmongering by both sides of politics and it becomes even harder. But it is vital we try.
It will be a key opportunity for us to see and understand the values and priorities of the Federal Government, to consider whether these align with our own priorities and values, and to inform our voting decisions accordingly.
Tuesday’s budget will be heavy on economic jargon and numbers, but it is important to see beyond these to the values and priorities at its core. It is these that will determine whether this budget will succeed or fail in delivering for Tasmania, and set the scene for our response at July’s election.

It’s important to note, however, that budgetary dollars are only a part of figuring out priorities. It doesn’t always take a huge budget to create huge impacts. Meals on Wheels, a service that provides meals and company for over 2.4 million seniors a year, does so for a comparatively tiny budget. The New York Times, in March of 2017, even quoted one study that found if all states had increased the number of Meals on Wheels recipients by just 1 percent, states could have saved Medicaid more than $109 million.
Priority isn’t always about dollars — sometimes it’s about putting the right dollars in the right place.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.