$700,000,000,000 and all I got was this lousy T-ax shirt?

Everybody knows that – regardless of temporary bailout advantages – long term Government spending cuts are imperative to restoring the economy and restoring US prosperity.

The two big ticket items in our US budget are Military and Entitlements.   Interest on the debt is also substantial, but to cut that you need to … cut military and entitlements.  Nothing else really matters that much in terms of reducing the deficit and debt to levels that won’t cripple the future of our children.

So, my proposal is to do a MUCH better job of combining military expenditures and training in ways that support infrastructure projects.     This will require more research, but it seems odd to me that we invest tens of billions per year training soldiers to do things in isolation that could be helping build US infrastructure.  e.g. Building shelters, communications, etc.  Why not redirect some of this training to things that enhance our infrastructure here at home?    Obviously there are several obstacles to overcome – most will be bureaucratic in nature, some will come from the left wing who will fret that the military should not be integrated into everyday life in this fashion.   We should be able to overcome both of those.

Keeping soldiers safe should always be a very high priority, but too few defense advocates focus on this nearly as much as projecting big power in the form of complex and expensive systems and massive troop deployments.    I’d argue that the *only* area where we should basically not worry about costs is in troop safety.

…. more on this later ….    need to see what exactly we spend our money on in what Eisenhower correctly suggested would be a massive complex of unnecessary and wasteful spending.

12 thoughts on “$700,000,000,000 and all I got was this lousy T-ax shirt?

  1. Your opposition to the DoD slushbucket impresses a bit, Duck. I find it slightly interesting that a few tea-party people–including Rand Paul– are in favor of decreasing the DoD budget, while the supposed liberal Democrats generally favor defense contracts. That’s happening now in SoCal as well: the Demos and unionists want the big ticket DOD contracts (for drones, mainly) along with the usual GOP good ol boys. War may be Hell, but it’s also big business. Aynnie Rand, bless her blackheart, once opposed both LBJ and Nixon’s war machines (this thing’s costing us an arm and a leg)

    I don’t approve of the TP–certainly not the Glenn Beck sorts–, but their libertarian views, at least in regard to the DoD, should be considered. In other areas…they probably shouldn’t. Taxes on the very wealthy should be kicked back up to Clinton era levels (which historically speaking, are still fairly low. First term Reagan-era rates were higher than now, or Clinton).

    OF course to some pseudo-liberal phonies (such as one Matti Motya of New Worlds), merely breaking rank with the Democrats, Inc means …you’ve joined the nazis. We can see this with the recent Tuscon tragedy. It wasn’t some deranged Arizona stoner who shot Miss Giffords, it was…Sarah Palin, and the NRA! Pathos generally replaces reason when the corporate liberal mind–the Snitch Mind– feels threatened by dissent of whatever type.

    • I’m pretty frustrated with the way both parties support wasteful spending based on their political and tribal thinking agendas. At least the Tea Party *recognizes* the need for big cuts, but we’ll see if they are willing to actually make them in their own sacred spending cows. 100 billion is a start, but it’s not enough. We’ll need that over and over in both defense and entitlements. Social Security is not too hard to fix if you simply tie the future benefits of people (like me) to the systems ability to pay. Cost of living adjustments become cost of money adjustments. It’s a no-brainer, but politically hard to do since government tends to spend now and push the payments far into the future.

      • At least the Tea Party *recognizes* the need for big cuts, but we’ll see if they are willing to actually make them in their own sacred spending cows.

        Some of the TP may (as with Paul)–mainly in rural areas–. In the urban areas and big states however there appears to be Demopublican unity in favor of DoD contracts. That’s what propels many local economies of the US. Without the Grunts and the local War Machine, there wouldn’t be much of any business.

        Im in principle opposed to libertarian ideas, or at least naive libertarianism. But there is shall we say a …smart libertarianism–(say that of Nozick ..rather than….Glenn Beck). What should citizens be expected to fund? One area that bugs me is…public education, actually. I’m for …the authentic educator, whether in science, or languages, history, etc. Citizens need math/science/technological skills. And a foreign language, writing skills, etc

        Should taxpayers (even at state level), however, fund massive athletic departments? Or theatres, and symphonies??? At one point, I might have said yes. But these days, …NYET. Calif. for example could save millions (probably billions) by axing athletic departments at ALL public schools.

        Some exercise and PE is valuable. Health is a “good.” However the public–ie the State– should not be obligated to fund organized sports around the year. Personally Id rather have a few pianos (and piano teachers), etc. than the millions going to sports-Co, coaches, Athletic bureaucrats, etc–whether at high school or college level. But in the liberal bureaucracy of CA, few if any people are brave enough to take on the jock business.

  2. Should taxpayers (even at state level), however, fund massive athletic departments? Or theatres, and symphonies??? At one point, I might have said yes. But these days, …NYET

    Folks should be learning that the only logical discussions we can have from this point forward are “what gets cut?”. Few understand how much we’ve been deficit spending and for how long. This is true at National and State levels and even to limited extent in private sector with Pension funds, but in many cases a company will be punished quickly – often in a deadly fashion – for living far above their means. Again, TARP is not really part of this disussion in my view. That was “one time” stimulus spending and so far seems to have worked very well (most has been repaid). I’m talking long term ongoing spending and related troubles.

    It’s incredible to me how many people still see budgets as “what good stuff should we spend on?” rather than “how do we allocate our limited resources?”.

    But we are whining into the wind. States will be punished and cut but the Feds will keep spending and – probably starting in 2012 after the re-election of Obama – start printing money. Although many seem to think we don’t need to worry about inflation at all, as I see things there is pretty much no way out of this other than future printing of a LOT of money to cover the US debts. It’s hard to know what happens after that begins. China’s currency strength and economic ambitions are a bit of a singularity – very hard to know how they will react as things change – very much in their favor as I see it.

    zài jiàn – need to go practice my Mandarin.

  3. TARP was pure Demopublican cronyism. They govt. agencies responsible for monitoring TARP have in many cases not been able to track the funds distributed to banks and executives under TARP–(and the idea of the govt. handing out large stipends to financiers should bother anyone who ever valued Jefferson, Madison, et al). Some may have been paid back–not all. So, TARP’s another situation where the supposed liberals more or less joined in arms with the GOP (Paulsen/Bush organized TARP). The entire CA legislative team supported it.

    Deficit spending without bringing in more revenue (like by raising taxes on the upper brackets, especially in capital gains) is a recipe for disaster. Middle class tax cuts are understandable. But capital gains rates, for one, should be at higher levels. Millionaire investors (and above) can afford it. Indeed Obama showed his centrist side by extending Bush ‘s tax slashes. No wonder Duck approves of ObamaCo.

    • I don’t follow your TARP concerns. I was very skeptical about it at the time, but it’s now clear most of the money is coming back to we the people and it’s likely TARP prevented or at least helped to mitigate a further collapse. At least most economist seem to think that and the cases I’ve heard are persuasive.

      Great point about the perils of spending w/o taxes. People need to choose one or the other. I choose slashed spending and current tax rates but agree capital gains should probably go up. I don’t think there’s much research to back the idea that low cap gains tax rates stimulate the economy much.

  4. We have no shovels to send you, let the men lean on each other.

    Okay, that is the punch line from an old joke about the Civilian Conservation Corps … and now Joe Duck wants to make it the Military Conservation Corps: you know soldiers out doing good things. Sort of reminiscent of Mao’s Voluntary Labor Battalions.

    Military jobs don’t really translate to civilian life, only military payrolls. Eons ago Burroughs computer company won an Army contract by lowballing the bid. So Burroughs went broke and all those soldiers were later discharged with experience operating Burroughs computers. Few civilian companies had Burroughs computers and those that did had no need of operators who had spent three years in the army doing the same task over and over again but didn’t even know where the on/off switch was.

    What are you going to do? Train a Good Old Boy from Kansas to build a bridge? The contractor who put the Mayor in office wants to build that bridge; he doesn’t want the Corps of Engineers building it with his tax dollars.

  5. Take a look at auto mechanics. Its taught in prisons. Dying occupation anyway. So what are you going to do: take military motor pool mechanics and tell them go work on civilian junkheaps?

    What in the bloated bureaucracy of the US military relates to civilian life? Taking kickbacks at the Post Exchange? Selling tax-free gasoline to officers?

    If you cancel the school Dog Obedience Classes, a/k/a Gym Classes, for budget reasons where are you going to find the military recruits? In the library reading Plato? Or at the pool hall, tattoo parlor and drug mart?

  6. You’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head, FG, or…nearly. The Question relates to good, efficient bureaucracy, vs bad, or inefficient, or corrupt bureaucracy. Many libertarian types–at least civilians–consider any bureaucracy, or….dare we say Statism, inherently wrong. That is, I believe naive, though understandable, perhaps, depending on…where you sit. I have Fed. experience and ..E-classification and know what sort of corrupt pieces of mierda some long-term Fed bureaucrats are, whether civilian…or military. But …we need a Park service, not to say Navy, USAF, Army. So forth. But Duck’s got a point re DoD slushbuckets. For the price of one supercarrier would ..the Govt. could build a few dozen schools and colleges.

    At this point some FDR-type programs–a CCC, for instance– would probably assist the growing ranks of unemployed. Then, putting say Goldman-Sachs execs on trail crews sounds fairly reasonable as well.

    Privatization has not always been good. In fact it’s often been bad (as in Yosemite). The market does not always work, certainly not for the public good: it might make a few very wealthy, but the USA was not intended to be a plutocracy.

    • >hit the nail on the head … or nearly!
      Story of my life. I always nearly hit the head of the nail, but always hit my thumb instead.

      In one rural area when a state trooper got a call from a motorist who had struck a deer, the trooper was supposed to call the county honor farm that was supposed to send a truck and a crew. It would take hours for the truck to arrive and the crew were lazy loafers, so the trooper simply called families who lived nearby and had a truck. The family got an “Out Of Season-Legal” tag on the deer, the carcass got hauled away but FAST and usually the trooper got a few tips about local criminals from the grateful recipients of some winter venison, but mainly the trooper got to leave the scene in a few minutes instead of a few hours. Was it technically wrong to do it? Sure it was.

      Now we have so many programs. None of them work. Politicians sit around planning things but as soon as Katrina sent poor Blacks across that bridge, plans went out the window and bullets started flying. Politicians left a flood gate unrepaired for over a year and Katrina found that weak point.

      So although Privitization does not always work so well, it often works far better than the bloated bureaacracy does. A CCC? Better not send them anywhere near the pot farms… those entrepreneurs are the real American Way types. The trouble is that prettying up the roadsides or painting over grafitti for the zillionth time is not going to change anything. Why paint out the grafitti on a bridge that is collapsing anyway?

      Many of our weapon systems are mere excuses to make Treasury transfers. So too are some of the military bases and units that exist. They are mere excuses for the payrolls.

    • Many NASA projects as well as DoD pork should be considered axe-able as well. The Hubble for instance, cost what 20 billion dollars or so (actually higher, IIRC). Some good may be coming out of it–at least pleasant galaxic postcards. Was it worth 20 bil+?? Yo no se pienso. That 20 bil. could have well…bought many school lunches. Or laptops for students. Or piano labs. Or public transportation of some sort.

      The JPL/Cal Tech distant space object fetish might itself be questioned. Some research may be necessary, like with…this solar system (and…the Sun), and “nearby” stars/planets. But should the public be expected to pay for a few eggheads speculating on ..objects thousands if not millions of light years away, or supposed objects, nebulae, “dark matter”, so forth? Rather dubious.

      For that matter, the pop-mechanics types generally don’t quite fathom the incredibly huge distances and time involved with deep space. The NASAphiles tend to be like …one Byronia of New Worlds, who apparently had some problems with Ebonics Astronomy 101–like the section regarding the speed of light constant, which is in miles per second, not mph (thus completely falsifying B’s guestimate, of “almost five times the speed of light, goldangit”….)

      Holy NASCAR Oval in space, ratman.

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