Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Living Within the Budget

When George W. Bush announced his budget this week, he sprang more rich-get-richer schemes on an unsuspecting public than even the most jaded observer would have suspected was coming. The president says he focused on programs’ results, cutting only those programs that are not “effective.”

Among the things the president feels we spend too much on: Community Development Block Grants. The new vision: Let American urban centers crumble and die. The rich have already sucked them dry and moved on to greener pastures. Another program that is not getting results: financial aid for vocational training. What happened to “No child left behind?” It is back that way, somewhere in the dust.

Not that the president bears any particular malice toward anyone. He just fails to see the problem with being unable to earn a crust. After all, he has gotten along just fine, and his job skills are marginal at best. Kids who have financial problems can ask dad to help out, or if times are really hard, they can pawn the family’s silver candlesticks and the Faberge eggs the ambassador sent for Christmas last year.

The new budget increases spending for Homeland Security and defense. None of the money in the budget is earmarked for military operations currently under way. Those will be handled with separate “emergency” appropriations to the tune of $80 billion. This classifying of military operations as outside of defense is certainly realistic, since those in question are most decidedly offensive.

Perhaps it is hair-splitting, but emergencies are by nature unforeseen, and this is about as unforeseen as short hair coming out of a barber shop. Ray Charles could have seen this train wreck coming, and bright man that he was, would have stepped out of the way.

The president also talks about boosting the country’s readiness for biological attack. This might be a good place to increase funds. Perhaps we should start by getting an ample supply of flu vaccine for next year. On the other hand, maybe we should let a flu epidemic solve the social security crisis by thinning out the number of our “unproductive” citizens.

Since there will be a lot of scrambling and reorganizing to live with this budget, I’d like to make a couple of suggestions about how we can give the president what he wants, and still get out of the deal with our skins.

First, bring all the soldiers overseas home. Pack them up and bring them back. The political capital to be gained from this move alone is immense. Think about the good will generated by thousands of grateful significant others whose loved ones have returned home alive—or never had to leave in the first place.

Families can pay returning veterans to care for the maimed and wounded soldiers we will turn out of VA hospitals when we cut veterans’ benefits. After that, vets can bury the dead from the famine resulting from putting half the farms in the country out of business completely when the crops they produced last season do not fetch enough to pay the bills because we suddenly cut price supports.

After big business has exported the last decent job, we will no longer need armed forces, because regular people will have been tort-reformed out of any redress against polluters and irresponsible employers (we’re also cutting the EPA), and there will not be much left to interest a foreign invader anyway, particularly when Americans begin to view cockroaches as wildlife.

Second, let’s cut the crap, and write Halliburton a check. Skip the blood and guts, the funerals, flag-waving, and crying mothers and flat-out give them the money. We can spend less than we paid them last year, because they will have incurred no expenses to pass through to us. Further savings will come from money we do not have to spend on death benefits, armor, and training more troops.

Finally, we can take all those kids who will not be learning trades in vocational schools and give them on-the-job training as rat-catchers and recycling technicians (trash pickers). After all, we will need plenty of those as our cities crumble.

© 2005

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About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.