Thursday, April 16, 2009

Musings: Big Spenders

The east was emblazoned with hot pink when I awoke this morning and hurried Koko out of the house — not that she ever needs urging — so as not to miss a bit of it. The color slowly drained as we walked down the street, caressed by the lightest sprinkle of rain, and even the sun, when it rose, couldn’t penetrate the gray.

I’ve been noticing that the wild chickens suffer a high infant mortality rate. You’ll see a hen shepherding a flock of eight to 10 tiny chicks, but by the time they’ve tripled in size and can fly a bit, she’s often down to one or two. Which, when you consider the current teeming population, is a very good thing.

Government spending, when done by Democrats, anyway, is not such a good thing, according to blowhards like Sen. Sam Slom, who attended the ”tea party” tax protest staged in Honolulu and elsewhere yesterday:

”Don't forget we are and always will be the patriots who love our country ... who will fight and die. You want to stimulate America? Believe in and practice the free market," said state Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai'i Kai), wearing a top hat emblazoned with the American flag. "We will fight, we will win, we will return our country."

Return it to what? The Bushites who racked up a giant debt to destroy Iraq while funneling billions to Halliburton and its ilk and simply "losing" billions more over there? The bankers and investment brokers and car makers who came crying to the feds for a huge bailout as soon as their free-market free-for-all turned into a fiasco?

What an idiot.

Yet for all their whining about government spending, how many of them would be willing to seriously cut, I mean pare ruthlessly to the bone, the one thing that really sucks up the tax dollars? Yup, I’m talking about the military.

A report by the National Priorities Project shows how the federal government spent each income tax dollar in 2008: a whopping 37.3 cents went to the military and military-related debt, while environment, energy and science-related spending split just 2.8 cents.

Wow. Just 2.8 cents. Does that spending scheme mesh with your priorities, your world view?

If you want to get really depressed, you can go to this link and watch your money being frittered away in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don’t worry, there’s no blood and guts depicted, just the result of your sweat and tears.

Hey, what if we were to get really radical and flip that formula, and start spending large on restoring the environment, developing clean and renewable energy projects and beefing up scientific research and science education? (See, contrary to what some might think, I am not at all anti-science, anti-technology or anti-engineering. I happen to like nerds and a lot of the stuff they dream up.)

What kind of nation do you 'spose we could make if we channeled all the money and creativity and innovation and intelligence that now goes into destroying life into endeavors that would instead support it?

Do you suppose we could try it? Come on. Just for a little while or a few trillion, whichever comes first.


Sandhya said...

Wow. A stunning post. Where are the comments? I'm for flipping this upside down for awhile--2.8 cents to military, 37 to envt and education. Let's try that. What we've been doing hasn't been getting such good results.

Dawson said...

And for years, lefties like me snickered at Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex.

We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

Anonymous said...

Sam Slom is FULL OF SHIT if he thinks the Tea Party people are supporters of him and his bogus party.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Republicans didn't care enough about the deficit when it went up a "little" under Bush (to pay for a war), therefore they can't complain when Obama sends it through the stratosphere (to pay for socialized medicine)?

Also, there was no "free-market free-for-all." Are you kidding?

Finally, the author's comparison of military spending with the bail out is fallacious. The government has the power under the constitution to spend on the military. It does not have the power to give our money to corporations.