— By LARRY M. JONES
I’m certainly looking forward to it, and I’m sure that most of you are, as well. I’m talking about going out and celebrating New Year’s Eve tomorrow night. Down here on the “pore farm,” we old folks will likely stay home but, I’m sure we’ll have champagne, a big band, dancing till the wee hours, and a rousing good time will be had by all. Well, maybe not. …
Most of us think in terms of our year normally beginning on the first of January. We file our income taxes and make other plans in accordance with how our calendars are printed – January through December. However, if we were the federal government, we would do things a little different, just like everything else that comes out of the “great puzzle palace to the east.”
When I first became an indentured servant of the Department of Defense back in 1967, the fiscal year ran from July 1 through June 30. Just when I was becoming accustomed to having a new date for the year to begin, low and behold, in 1976 the feds changed it to begin on the first of October. I’d like to blame the incompetent peanut farmer from Georgia who was sitting president at the time, but it was actually created by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Wow, what a moniker.
Officially, the reason for changing was to allow Congress more time to arrive at a budget each year. Personally, I think that it was done to merely kick the proverbial can down the road for three months, shuffling monies, and obfuscating the budget process even more.
All “bean counters” possess a large tool chest of tricks to play the fiscal shell game. One of the first that I saw in the Navy was the way paydays were manipulated. If I recall correctly, in the 1960s the military was paid twice monthly, in the middle and at the end of the month. Depending on when weekends fell, the pay periods could vary from 13 to 17 days.
We almost never knew how much our checks would be. This was not a good thing for folks like me who were living from payday to payday. Then they changed it to the 15th and the 30th – all checks being the same. Sometime in the late ‘70s the bean counters figured out that if they bumped paydays from the 15th to the 1st, that would put an entire half month of payroll into the next fiscal year. Very clever.
For the past several weeks we’ve seen the politicians, bureaucrats and government bean counters spreading lies, threats and innuendos about sequestration, government shutdown, defunding Obamacare, and why it’s all George Bush’s fault. Despite all the bluffs, threats and accusations, I suspect that on Tuesday morning the sky will not fall, government will not shut down and “the anointed one” will be planning another round of golf in Hawaii.
Meanwhile down on Route One Millsap, plans are coming together to ring out the old and ring in the new. In fact, if we remember to take all our pills, we may stay up and watch the 10 o’clock news instead of watching our usual 9 o’clock early edition on Fox 4.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.