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SNL on Obsessive Cost Cutting (Russian Bride Edition)

October 25th, 2009 . by economistmom

I didn’t realize that this weekend’s Saturday Night Live was a repeat (of a fairly recent show) until I went looking for the video of this sketch on Russian brides.  Somehow it reminded me of the topic of fiscal responsibility and how some misinterpret the label of “fiscal hawk” as someone preoccupied with cutting costs and basically being a “cheapskate.”  Maybe there are some who call themselves “fiscal hawks” who really do obsess about shedding costs without regard for the benefits that are lost along with the costs, but those are really “small government” (or even anti-government) types.  True “fiscal responsibility” or “fiscal prudence” means weighing the costs against the benefits–i.e., giving proper consideration to both sides of the equation.  Taking the cheapest option often does not make economic sense; we might be more willing to pay for a more expensive option that is truly worth its cost.  Perhaps we need to keep that in mind as we work out a plan for health care reform where we’ll likely be tempted to (or even desperate to?) cut the cost of the bill in brute force, not-necessarily-smart ways.

And speaking of beautiful women (and health care reform financing), Bruce Bartlett made a fun and related analogy last Friday in his Forbes column:

[W]henever I suggest the idea of a VAT for the U.S., I am attacked by supply-siders and assorted right-wingers. The other day my friend Larry Kudlow criticized me for wanting to “Europeanize the American economy.” Their concern is that the VAT is a money machine that will lead to higher taxes and bigger government precisely because it is such a “good” tax.

I myself held this same view for many years. But eventually I decided that it was stupid to oppose something because of its virtues. Opposing a VAT because it’s too good is like breaking up with your girlfriend because she is too beautiful.

4 Responses to “SNL on Obsessive Cost Cutting (Russian Bride Edition)”

  1. comment number 1 by: murf

    When it comes to government and it’s ability to vaporize money on any and every program, I suspect that cheapest is ALWAYS the best. Puts the voracious beast on a diet.

  2. comment number 2 by: Brooks

    Hey, at least they acknowledge some trade-off (quality vs. price), which is more than many politicians and hyperpartisan advocates will do — e.g., Obama refusing to acknowledge that very substantial healthcare savings will mean at least some people will get lesser healthcare (insisting instead that all we’d have to do is deny people a more expensive “blue pill” that was no more effective than the “red pill”), and some conservatives insisting that tax cuts increase revenues or that they will purely “starve the beast” (of government “waste”) and thus not increase deficits or even deprive anyone of anything of value.

    By the way, switch all the answers each potential bride gives, and most guys would pick Megan Fox anyway (particularly if choosing neither were not an option, but even if it were).

  3. comment number 3 by: BillSmith

    Given the inability of a most politicians to say no to additional spending on behalf of just about any interest group - a VAT tax to a politician could be like heroin and a heroin addict.

  4. comment number 4 by: P.G. Garber

    Is Mom saying she would go along with an increase in the federal deficit if the health care benefits were worthwhile?