Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Some Suggestions for Future Budget Cuts

As I wrote yesterday, I think the government shutdown is stupid. But so long as people are listing things that are no longer operating (that, it follows,we usually pay for), let's see if we can find some things we fund that we can all agree are a giant waste of time and money.

Government social media presence--Twitter, Instagram, etc. Why on God's earth do we pay people to update the First Lady's Twitter account or the White House Instagram feed? I'm sure the WH has a staff photog--and they should for history's sake, I think--but real time updates of what is going on in the Oval Office is no more useful than the pic of what my friends had for brunch on Sunday. At best it's useless, at worst it's propaganda. Chuck them.

The DEA: Seriously, they are worthless. Drugs are cheaper and purer than they've been at any point over the last 20 years. Billions of dollars absolutely and unquestionably wasted, not to mention the lives ruined and lost in the process. Kill it.

E-Verify: Doesn't work, costs a lot of money, is a blatant privacy violation, and is going to cost jobs when false positives reject American citizens from jobs for which they are eligible. This last bit will be due to some administrative snafu, which comes standard with any government program. We don't need a national ID.

Child Soldier Subsidies: No, really. Congress passed a law in 2008 banning financial and military support to regimes that actively use child soldiers. The White House just waived that ban for three countries that use child soldiers on Friday. Here, for once, it's perfectly reasonable to say "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!"

There are plenty more, but even the most strident good government type has to admit we spend too much money on government that ranges from banal to deplorable. Surely we can cut some of this.

bellum medicamenti delenda est

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Very Brief Thoughts on the Impending Government Shutdown

Though I prefer the term 'classical liberal,' I'm a libertarian. I am highly skeptical of government, both in intent and general competence. I wish the government, and the federal government in particular, did a lot less than it is currently charged with. All that being said, a federal government shutdown will likely be a disaster and a mindless exercise of political self-mutilation.

For one, it won't stop ObamaCare or any other entitlement or longstanding government program. Thus, all this is about being obstinate for its own sake. It won't be the end of the world if it's shut down for a few days, but what will happen is that government services upon which people depend, rely, or otherwise enjoy will be unavailable to much of the public or otherwise crippled in their effectiveness. And who will get the blame for this absence/dramatic reduction in service? Tea party/libertarian/small government types because the people responsible pay hollow lipservice to their ideals.

This is the wrong way to sell smaller government.

Think of it this way: take an addicted cigarette smoker. You want to convince him to quit for his own good, but he's not ready. Well, instead of reasoning with him or convincing him there are alternatives to smoking--nicotine gums, patches, e-cigs, jogging, whatever--you just steal his cigarettes and prevent him from getting his fix by whatever means you can.

Now this guy is going to be pissed at you. This is because you haven't convinced him he doesn't really want that cigarette--you have just taken it from him and made him angry. Very, very angry. Even though smokers know the stuff is bad for them, many who may want to quit haven't found a way that works for them. You've now made that decision for them, but you know it's only a temporary one.

But as soon as you give this guy access to cigarettes again, he'll go buy another pack and may even smoke more. You haven't convinced him there are concrete steps he can take to get over his addiction--you just convinced him you're a stubborn prig who'll make other people miserable just to prove a point. You, and others perceived to be like you, will likely have much less sway with him from that point on because you were an unthinking, uncaring, self-righteous S.O.B.

The GOP is that S.O.B.

bellum medicamenti delenda est