Monday, May 18, 2009

Not So Fast...


I'm a little puzzled by your request: "Please don't waste our collective time wandering down a litany of military budget items...", especially after you yourself imposed on my time with a litany of budget items in your post two doors down, to wit:

"- $1 billion for Amtrak, which hasn’t turned a profit in 40 years
- $2 billion for child-care subsidies
- $50 million for that engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts
- $400 million for MORE global-warming research (sorry, Al, but isn’t there already a
“consensus”? isn’t it true “the discussion
is over”?)
- $2.4 billion for “carbon-capture demonstration projects
- $650 million (on top of billions already doled out) to pay for digital TV conversion coupons (at
about 120 million homes, it would have been cheaper to just byone from Wal-Mart send it
to every household in the country)
- $600 million for the federal government to buy new cars
- $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities
- $150 million for the Smithsonian
- $81 billion for Medicaid
- $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
- $20 billion for food stamps
- $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don’t pay income tax
- $66 billion on education (because it is obviously working so much more effectively than our
- $6 billion to weatherize “modest income homes”
- $6 billion to provide internet in “underserved” areas
- $6 billion for “higher education modernization.”- $20 billion in health information technology to “prevent medial mistakes.”
- $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate
- $250 million “to address long-term economic distress in urban industrial cores and rural areas
distributed based on need and ability to create jobs and attract private investment.” (thanks
for being so specific)
- $300 million for the National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries
- $400 million for “ready-to-go habitat restoration projects”
- $120 million to provide subsidized community service jobs to an additional 24,000 low-income
older Americans
-$1.5 billion to help local communities build and rehabilitate low-income housing using green
- $500 million to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at some of the over 42,000 housing
units maintained by Native American housing programs
-$10 million for “rural, high-need areas to undertake projects using sustainable and energy-
efficient building and rehabilitation practices”
…etc., etc., etc…"

Now, assuming you have not changed the rules in the intervening two posts - to the extent that "litanies of budget items we don't like" are now no longer sanctioned (which is uncharacteristic of you) - you leave me with no other conclusion than that I must chose between two options: Either you are conceding, without argument, my contention that the military budget can be cut by 50%, or, that you do not concede this but are not willing to confuse the issue with facts. Which will it be?

On a somewhat related note, it looks like you have arrived at so amorphous a definition of tyranny that the whole exercise of using it as a criticism is almost pointless. You say, "Using *Force* to impose the will and judgment of one over the wishes of another is TYRANNY."

Why of course it is. But in view of the fact that the "will and judgement" is the result of a fairly and democratically elected government, this sounds more like a child confusing authority with tyranny when told by his parents to clean up his room. Furthermore, I doubt if there is any workable system of government which allows each of the governed to pick and choose between which laws they will obey and which they will not. Otherwise, Jefferson would have substituted "tyranny" for "just powers".

I assume what you mean is that you want a government which places less responsibility on itself and more on the individual. You are not alone - but your condition is relative. Ted Kaczynki, the "Unibomber" (and prominent Neo-Ludite) would probably consider you as much of a liberal as you do me.

Look. No one is going to be happy with every single law our elected representatives enact. But saying the laws you don't like are a form of tyranny gets us nowhere. Liking you personally as much as I do, I would rather you not jump onto Texas Governer Rick (Neo-Secessionist) Perry's space ship and head off into the wild blue yonder of whacked out ideas.

Last but not least, what do you mean when you say you are an individualist and I am a collectivist? Is this a comment on what each of us think government should do, or what government should be? The distinction is important. Without doubt, I have a more liberal view than you of what government should do. So far I have proceeded on the assumption that this is the entire basis upon which we differ. But - do we have a more fundamental difference?

I was honored some time ago to have a letter of mine printed in the AJC - responding to a person who suggested that voters should pass a basic literacy test before being allowed to vote. Others have suggested additional qualifications, such as the ownership of property, as a condition of enfranchisement. Still others have suggested more radical changes in our entire system of government. As for myself, except for (an admittedly arbitrary) requirement of age, I think every citizen should be allowed to vote and that our system of government is just fine as it is. What do you think?


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