The cruelest concept in the world is the idea of budgeting. Osama Bin Laden recently suggested that in Islam there are no taxes, only a tithe of 2.5%. Like the Grey Panthers of the Proposition 2 1/2% movement, he sounds like a hollow politician promising a chicken in every pot if we would just give him more power. Yet, those who set the budget never deliver the pot nor the chicken. Where does the “savings” go?
A budget is the numerical expression of self-righteousness. It is because of a budget that people can step over a beggar on the street and say "I gave at the office." A budget is how we plan our compassion conservatively. A public budget is how activists measure "their fair share" when they lobby for the funds of their neighbor. The government leaders budget what they think is an appropriate amount of suffering by the citizens while still ensuring their personal comfort.
Employees are forever forced to meet their budget, and managers prove their worth by exceeding their budget. Slaves are still being bought and sold, but with greater efficiency, thanks to paper money and computers. Debts are stronger than chains, and more painful than whips.
When a business does not meet its budget the laborers are fired or punished to protect the owner's budget. Churches act in a similar vein, as Osama's offer demonstrates. The elders will build a castle for rituals while the flock shelters under a tree. Athletes and musicians get drunk on adulation, while others budget for a percentage of their fame.
While we think of governments, businesses and non-profit organizations as different entities, in fact they are all exactly the same. They are all ruled by the love of budgeting money, and the corresponding myopia that follows with it. Individuals budget part of their earnings for investing, so they can use their surplus to prey on those who borrow. Budgeting makes it easy to be both prey and predator simultaneously. How did Orwell miss the obvious?
The government prints the money and then demands it back again. What is the point of this nonsense? Could we find a more absurd way to govern ourselves? Democracy is a system where the wise must ask the permission of the unwise. We have a government that will foreclose and evict people from their houses to protect the budgets of the money-lenders. A government of the foolish, by the foolish and for the foolish may never perish, but there is always hope that it will pass. Will Scrooge awake to see how the love of money cost him more than what money can buy?
The rain falls on both the just and unjust, and the wise and the unwise. Perhaps we can purchase redemption, but that would require breaking the budget, erasing the numbers and starting anew. The world is thousands of years late for a scheduled Jubilee, and so we share poverty and war instead of joy. Why do we teach our children lies about money and power?
Inflation destroys every budget, and inflation is caused by how we understand money and how we value things. All profit and interest returns to us as an increased expense. The vicious circle returns to where it began.
People live in a greater fear of numbers than they do of death or damnation. If people understood the beauty of zero, then they would not be so afraid of it. Everybody can afford zero; there is no need to budget anything. Will we waste the entirety of our brief existence doing nothing but counting and chasing money? To be happy and free we must think differently about money. Budgeting is cruelty to humans.