Tom Purcell, 1/8/2013 [Archive]

New Year's Resolutions Fed-Style

Exclusive Excerpt from: "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" by Tom Purcell

(Editor Note: A prior version of this column was distributed by Cagle Cartoons in January, 2010. If you run this column, please mention that it is an excerpt from Tom Purcell's new book, "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" available at Thanks!)

Exclusive Excerpt: New Year's Resolutions, Fed-style

By Tom Purcell

Get this: The federal government is offering tips on New Year's resolutions.

I stumbled upon its "Popular New Year's Resolutions" page on, the official Web portal of the United States government.

"Lose Weight" is one. When I clicked the link there, it took me to the page for the Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a government agency tasked with keeping the public informed about obesity, weight control, physical activity and nutrition.

WIN's advice: "To lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you use" and "create a healthy eating plan."

Excited by such groundbreaking information, I moved along to "Manage Debt" -- something the government surely knows plenty about.

Its link took me to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection page. There I was advised that if I'm knee-deep in debt, I'll want to develop a budget and contact my creditors. I was also warned to be leery of debt-restructuring agencies.

So useful was that advice, I couldn't wait to move on to "Save Money." Its link took me to a page that offered 66 ways to save.

I clicked on "Credit Cards" and was informed that, to avoid a late fee, I ought to send in my payment five to 10 days before the bill is due. I also learned that I can avoid interest charges if I pay off my balance each month!

Since I own some rental properties, I was curious to see what money-saving tips the government is giving to prospective renters.

To wit: Renters are encouraged to shop around for the best deal -- or find a building they want to live in and contact the building manager to see if there is availability.

And before signing a lease, renters should be cautious: "Remember that signing a lease probably obligates you to make all monthly payments for the term of the agreement."

Probably? I've written a few leases in my day. I've been careful to keep "probably" out of the final drafts.

Nonetheless, the government offers two other useful suggestions: "Drink Less Alcohol" and "Quit Smoking Now."

The first link brought me to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism page. The existence of this government agency struck me as ironic.

Our government is doing so much to cause us to drink -- spending, deficits, debt -- that it has to establish another government entity to help us stop?

The smoking link took me to another government Web site,, where I learned that smoking isn't good for you. I was able to get live online help from a federal employee at the National Cancer Institute.

Though I don't smoke, I was so delighted by the "free" government support, I'm looking into starting.

"Reduce Stress Overall" was another resolution suggestion. The link took me to MedlinePlus, an online encyclopedia of health information. It is a service of another government entity, the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

There I learned that long-term stress isn't good -- that to address it, one must get to its underlying causes.

Well, here are some underlying causes.

Our government has gotten so bloated, it is offering tips on New Year's resolutions -- and directing us to government agencies to help us keep them?

If any entity should be making resolutions, shouldn't it be the federal government — and shouldn't its resolutions be based on the will and direction of the people?

Of course the birds in charge are ramming through legislation regardless of our will.

It's enough to drive a man to drink.

When I break that resolution, the last place I'll go for support is the federal government.

© 2013 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" and "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons syndicate. For info on using this column in your publication or website contact or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at

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