Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: April 12, 2011


Budget battles–the same old stuff from Obama

Tomorrow night President Obama will address the nation in an “important” speech – or is it “major” speech – about how he thinks we ought to cut both the deficit and the debt.

Clue:  It involves raising taxes.  

Yeah, the backhanded way of saying, “our problem is one of not enough revenue instead of too much spending”.  And how does the President plan on selling this?  Well if his spokesman, Jay Carney is to be believed, an old bromide is the answer:

“You can’t — you can’t simply slash entitlements, lower taxes and call that a fair deal.”

Everyone,” he said, must “share in the burden of bringing our fiscal house into order.”

You could spend all day on those two sentences alone.  Yes, Mr. Carney and Mr. Obama, you can “simply slash entitlement, lower taxes and call that a fair deal”.  Despite rhetoric to the contrary, our problem is growing government and out of control spending.  Slash both the size of government and severely limit its ability to spend more than it takes in and you’ve taken a major step in “bringing our fiscal house into order”.  That’s what’s fair.

But of course, that assumes you don’t by the implication that this problem we suffer under is one of all our making.  Because if you do, then you buy into the assumption that we must all “share in the burden” of fixing it.  No sale here.

First, we don’t all agree that it in order to fix what profligate and incompetent legislators have done over the years we must give them more money to waste.

No matter how many times they say it, it doesn’t make it right.  They have more than enough revenue to properly fund the Constitutionally mandated government.  What they don’t have enough revenue to continue carrying on is the extra-Constitutional nonsense called entitlements.  That means entitlements must be “slashed” to the point that they’re self-sufficient and don’t add to either the deficit or the debt.  Additionally, once those are addressed, government should be trimmed of all the bureaucratic fat it has built up over the decades.  If there’s a problem with morbid obesity in this country it is found in the size of government.

Oh, and don’t forget that the guy who is going to lecture us about fiscal responsibility on Wednesday night has doubled the debt and is running a deficit this year over a trillion dollars (drinking game – knock it back every time he pawns all of that off as an “inherited” problem), not to mention adding a huge new … entitlement program.

The budget deal just negotiated take a first tentative swipe at the size of government.  No, it’s not what I’d prefer, but then given what it could have ended up being, I’ll take it.  Here’s a rundown of some of the cuts.  Ed Morrissey has a few more:

The CR terminates funding for more than 55 programs, for a total savings of well over $1 billion.  In addition, the bill terminates two programs funded in ObamaCare (the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) and the Free Choice Voucher programs).

The CO-OP, according to some critics, is nothing more than a stealth public option.  But to the point – 55 programs is 55 programs.  We could probably easily eliminate 5,500, but that’s not the point at the moment – a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step in that direction.  That’s what this should be considered and we need to encourage (and reward) this sort of thinking and action.

Another I like:

The legislation also eliminates four Administration “Czars,” including the “Health Care Czar,” the “Climate Change Czar,” the “Car Czar,” and the “Urban Affairs Czar.”

That’s why you have Department Secretaries, although I’d love to see some of the departments eliminated as well.  Speaking of those Departments:

  • Agriculture: $3 billion cut from FY10 level, $3.2 billion less than Obama budget request
  • Commerce/Justice/Science: $10.9 billion cut from FY10 level, $7.1 billion less than Obama request
  • Defense: $5 billion increase from FY10
  • Energy/Water: $3.6 billion cut from FY10, $1.7 billion less than Obama request
  • Financial Services: $2.4 billion cut from FY10, $3.4 billion less than Obama request
  • Homeland Security: $0.784 billion cut from FY10, $1.9 billion below Obama request
  • Interior: $2.62 billion cut from FY10, $2.8 billion below Obama request
  • Labor/HHS/Education: $5.5 billion cut from FY10, $13 billion below Obama request
  • Legislature: $0.103 billion cut from FY10
  • Military Construction/Veterans Affairs: $0.6 billion increase over FY10, $3.4 billion more than Obama request
  • State/Foreign Operations: $0.504 billion cut from FY10, $8.4 billion below Obama request
  • Transportation/HUD: $12.3 billion cut from FY10, $13.2 billion below Obama request

Like I said a first tentative step, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, I just can’t wait to hear what Mr. Deficit Hawk has to say Wednesday night.  In a sad sort of way, it ought to be a howler.

~McQ


Nanny goes to the school cafeteria

I get so tired of these stories, but they have to be pointed out because they indicate a disturbing trend.  In this case, it’s just another in a long line of examples of bureaucrats unilaterally deciding to remove choice for everyone based on their arbitrary assessment of what is “good for you”.

The example this time is about some of the Chicago Public Schools, and in particular the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, have decided not to allow packed lunches from home.  This line in the story just drove me up the wall:

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

It is like parents don’t even exist in her world.  It is like they should have no say in what their children eat if it doesn’t jibe with Ms. Carmona’s idea of what that should be.  Mona Charen calls it “coercive humanitarianism”.  I think that’s way too kind.  I call it bureaucratic authoritarianism and typical of petty bureaucrats who have the power to impose their will on others with little or no accountability requirements.

Perhaps the biggest point to made about this is parents are again marginalized with these sorts of decisions.  They’re forced to do what the bureaucrat decides they should do.  And it costs those parents who do take their child’s nutrition seriously and who do pack nutritious lunches the option (the freedom) to do so.

Of course, one supposes that part of the reason for imposing this unilateral ban on lunches from home is so the kids will “eat well”, yes?

At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.

But as with most things, if you really drill down and “follow the money”, some of the bureaucratic insistence becomes a little clearer:

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

And they really don’t care if the food goes in the child’s stomach or the trashcan.

Which brings us to this line in the story:

Such discussions over school lunches and healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.

Frankly, I see no reason for debate – none of the government’s business.  I don’t need a super-nanny deciding what I can or can’t eat and I darn sure don’t want the government deciding what my children or grandchildren eat.

But … and you knew there was one … when government “pays” for health care, government will feel entitled and empowered to decide such things for individuals because bad decisions may affect your health and that would cost the government more than if you were forced to eat like it decides you should.

Yes there are national implications to this sort of bureaucratic nonsense, and somewhere out there in the bureaucratic/political incubator is a man or woman who will self-justify attempting to impose such a fundamental infringement on your freedom to choose for your own good.  And unfortunately many others will blithely go along.

~McQ


Egypt: So how’s that “revolution” going?

Not so hot if this story is any indication:

An Egyptian blogger was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for criticizing the military in what human rights advocates called one of the more alarming violations of freedom of expression since a popular uprising led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak two months ago.

The blogger, Maikel Nabil, 25, had assailed the Egyptian armed forces for what he called its continuation of the corruption and anti-democratic practices of Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Nabil often quoted from reports by established human rights groups.

[…]

The charges against Mr. Nabil included insulting the military establishment and spreading false information about the armed forces. The tribunal charged him with spreading information previously published by human rights organizations like Amnesty International on the army’s use of violence against protesters, the torture of those detained inside the Egyptian Museum and the use of forced pelvic exams, known as “virginity tests,” against detained female protesters.

Can’t have anyone “insulting the military establishment” or protesting against torture and “virginity tests” can we?  Sure seem much like the regime they just “threw out” doesn’t it?  Next: Islam begins to push the secular to the side. 

Yup, I can feel freedom ringing out from here.

~McQ