July 13, 2011
Cut the Damn Spending!By Tom Roberson
It's time to cut the damn spending! This means taking a commonsense approach to America's priorities and eliminating outdated programs that have long past served their original purposes and exist only out of habit and to protect their bureaucracies.
Leaving the United Nations would save the United States a lot of money and grief. The U.S., while funding about a quarter of all U.N. operations, has seen its influence steadily erode as dictatorships have increasingly been placed in charge of high-profile U.N. committees. This does not mean that I favor a return to international isolationism such as the U.S. practiced in the 1930s and which led to WWII. Saying that the United States is engaged in international affairs because it's a member of the U.N. is like saying that you know about Italians because you watch The Sopranos. The U.N. is a corrupt international organization and probably a criminal conspiracy on top of that. Its main interest is in promoting a world government under its command and protecting the salaries of its bloated bureaucracy. In its heyday back in the '50s and '60s, would it have tolerated such outlandish actions as allowing a North Korea to chair its Nuclear Nonproliferation Committee, or a Sudan its Human Rights Committee? Of course not! It's absurd. The U.S. needs to get out of the U.N. and cut the damn spending!
Looking back over the last century, it appears that every major crisis facing America resulted in the formation of a new cabinet department to address the issue. Woodrow Wilson's progressive administration produced the Labor Department; the turbulent '60s produced the Department of Housing and Urban Development; oil shocks in the '70s produced the Energy Department; and 9/11 produced the Department of Homeland Security and its hated TSA. The crises precipitating the formation of most of these departments have long ago ceased being problems, but their bureaucracies remain, ever vigilant in the search for new functionality the nation can't live without.
The Department of Labor was formed during a time when workers had few rights and job safety was an afterthought. Those days are long past, as successful companies today realize their value is dependent upon their uniquely skilled workforce and not the equipment that any company can employ. A few companies still exist that abuse their labor force, but state regulators are more than adequate for addressing those outliers. The Labor Department today uses it National Labor Relations Board to hand down unconstitutional rulings such as the one saying that Boeing can't open a factory in South Carolina because it's a right-to-work state and this amounts to retaliation against its Washington state labor unions. It's time to fire the Labor Department and cut the damn spending!
Lyndon Johnson unveiled his War on Poverty as the centerpiece of his domestic agenda while increasing our involvement in the Vietnam War. As part of his War on Poverty, Johnson created the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address discrimination in the housing market and rebuild urban centers decimated by rioting in the turbulent '60s. Having a black family in the White House, it would appear that the mission of eliminating housing discrimination is accomplished. Since rioting is now confined to leftist protesters, city mayors and councils are more than adequate for the task of running their respective metropolises. The major contribution of the Department of Housing and Urban Development lately has been to pressure lenders into granting mortgages to minorities unable to repay, thus creating a housing bubble that blew up and wrecked the American economy. It's time to shutter the Department of Housing and Urban Development and cut the damn spending!
Who can forget the image of Jimmy Carter dressed in his sweater urging Americans to turn their thermostats down to 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer to save energy? Carter was clueless about energy policy, so he created the Department of Energy to show he was doing something about the problem. Since then, America has steadily increased its dependence on foreign energy sources despite the thunderous admonitions by politicians to the contrary. The DOE has never produced one watt of electricity or one barrel of oil, but it has managed to increase its budget and influence over America's energy sector. Its latest contribution to energy policy has been a push towards uneconomical green energy initiatives such as biofuels that promote the conversion of our food supply into energy, driving up the cost of both our food and our fuel. It's time to unplug the Department of Energy and cut the damn spending!
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 galvanized America to the threat of fanatical Islamic terrorism and awakened us to the reality that these Islamic fanatics want us dead. George Bush started out by promising to right this terrible wrong, but then he created the Department of Homeland Security as an aggregation of numerous federal bureaucracies into a giant super-bureaucracy tasked with protecting the country from future terrorist attacks. At the time, there were some who protested that the creation of another bureaucratic layer was not the best way to cut through the red tape and ensure America's protection, but they were quickly drowned out by a citizenry still stunned by the deadliest attacks on American soil since the Civil War, fearfully attempting to adjust to the new reality. Americans wanted to feel safe again, and the DHS was offered as a promise to safety.
That promise of safety has now grown into intrusive, groping TSA agents hassling air travelers with shoe removal and dangerous body x-ray scans who lasciviously feel up female travelers according to some vague procedures guaranteed to specifically not target the very Muslim sector they should be targeting, but aren't to avoid being labeled as insensitive. To be effective, our security needs to be grounded in the reality of targeting those most likely to be a threat while inconveniencing as few travelers as possible. This means employment of the law enforcement tool of profiling which has been shown to be highly effective in reducing crime while reducing costs. Additionally, DHS has made a mess out of border security, disaster relief, and the other myriad functions it's now in charge of through the Border Patrol, FEMA, and numerous other federal agencies. It's too big, too powerful, and too unwieldy. It's time to ground the Department of Homeland Security and cut the damn spending!
Social Security was created during the Great Depression as a safety net for those unable to support themselves in light of the crushing poverty of the times. Like all good intentions paving the road to hell, it grew with the times as more groups were deemed worthy of help, and as medical needs were addressed through the addition of Medicare. Of course this meant that it required more taxes to support the system, meaning that people had to work longer and were less able to care for their own, meaning they required more out of the government, and the cycle grew. Americans began to live much longer than the originally estimated 65 years, putting further strain on the political promises of retirement. Originally intended as a safety net, Social Security is now seen as a right and viewed as a retirement income indexed for inflation. Stories constantly pop up describing how someone is living in an awful existence because all they have is Social Security and it's not enough. Cradle-to-grave entitlements already have wrecked parts of Europe, but the progressive liberal Democrats continue to push for expansion of the system and demagogue anyone daring to suggest sensible reforms to strengthen the system's fiscal base. It's time to reform Social Security and cut the damn spending!
Medicare was introduced at a time when health care was relatively inexpensive and was seen as a low-cost way to expand the entitlement sector for seniors by picking up their health costs. Back then, fewer multimillion-dollar treatments and less sophisticated medical equipment existed, while many expensive drug therapies hadn't yet been invented. Statistically, Americans didn't live long enough past the age of 65 to be a great burden on the taxpayers, so opposition appeared to be a cold-blooded attempt to throw grandma under the bus.
As soon as government began paying for medical care, the costs exploded. Keep in mind that seniors are the group most likely to require medical care due to the infirmities of age. Today, the fear of the cost of a hospital visit has replaced the fear of a painful surgical procedure and serves to keep most people from seeking proper medical treatment that might prolong their lives. We've now priced ourselves out of the ability to enjoy the greatest medical care known to mankind. It's time to take Medicare off of life support and cut the damn spending!
Medicaid was introduced during the same War on Poverty that gave us Medicare and has contributed to the current condition of outlandish medical expense. Originally conceived as a way to ensure poorer Americans had access to healthcare, it has mushroomed from a social safety net to the medical insurance system of choice for those Americans unwilling and/or unable to provide for their own medical insurance needs. Today's medical costs have forced more and more Americans to become dependent upon Medicaid for access to medical care. Middle-class Americans live in fear of losing their health insurance benefits and being forced to succumb to the second-tier medical care they believe is represented by dependence on Medicaid. Progressive liberal Democrats have used this fear to crush the medical insurance market and take over the health care sector to funnel voters toward their candidates who promise more benefits in exchange, yet deliver less service as medical bureaucracies slow to eventual near-motionless equilibrium. It's time to wheel Medicaid to surgery and cut the damn spending!
Cut Even More
This list of possible areas to reduce federal spending is by no means exhaustive. The Veterans Administration should be folded back into Defense, and military retirees should be given private insurance options that allow them access to better medical facilities than those provided by the VA. They deserve so much better than they get, but that's the life of a soldier.
Foreign aid should be eliminated, as it has bought America very little support in a hostile world. The world respects power and sees money as the weak attempt to buy friends that it is. America's defense requires continuous evaluation and should be adjusted as conditions warrant while avoiding the temptation to hollow it out in pursuit of some elusive and nonexistent peace dividend.
America should stop defending Europe through NATO and force the Europeans to spend more on their own defense. The threat of another European war is nonexistent as they can't even muster up enough firepower to oust a third-rate dictator in Libya.
There are numerous federal regulatory agencies that have outgrown their original intentions and mainly serve to issue ridiculous rules that overburden Americans by reducing our freedoms. The EPA is a prime example of regulatory overzealousness that sorely needs to be reined in with a serious budget reduction. And, too much of American industry has been shuttered by the Endangered Species Act to protect various creatures most people have never heard nor seen. The elimination of jobs only promotes the very poverty progressive liberals claim to be against.
It's time for the politicians in Washington to stop looking for ways to protect the status quo and cut the damn spending! The progressive liberal Democrats under Obama are demanding tax increases to continue foolishly spending money we no longer have. The Republican establishment is seriously considering caving into these demands for increased revenue in exchange for more phantom spending cuts of funds that aren't even due to be spent anyway. Hey, we're not stupid!
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