Thursday, July 12, 2012

Total Cost of Ownership

I think it is time to think about the TCO of living somewhere. The amount we have to expend (or is expended on our behalf) just for being somewhere.
The typical (and intensly political) approaches look at things like "The Deficit" and "Taxes" in giant categories. But what they don't do, not do they make it easy for us individually to do is to look at the cost/waste in the system of being somewhere.
That cost/waste comes out of our hides somehow. So, for example, we can keep taxes low by providing few government services and somehow billing back the citizenry for the necessary services.
We can have legislation that frees up tax money for a specific purpose (e.g. a Flexible Spending Account as part of the healthcare options). Nice you think - that will be taken off pre-tax. But because of abuse, we have to justify every dollar withdrawn from it - ensuring that we aren't buying things we shouldn't with pre-tax $. So bureacuracy is established to handle this. This bureaucracy has to be paid for. Oh, and this is a job creation scheme too! Premiums rise to pay for the bureaucracy. The blame is passed onto the healthcare industry and the government gets away scot free. As my dad would say, "A good game played slowly!"
So when we look at just the costs of being around we need to look at those items that aren't taxes (i.e. not collected by governemnt), but that somehow we have to pay in order to be here.
Of course much of this overhead comes about because so many individuals just cheat the system. So we create legislation, and then band-aid on anti-cheating measures which inevitably increase the price of the service, but the legislators can (correctly, but disingenuously) claim that they didn't increase taxes.

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