Yes, I've been in a political mood lately. What can I say, it's nearing November and I'm hearing so much stuff that the opinions are leaking out of my ears. This is the benefit of having your own blog; nobody but me tells me what to say. The only measure I have of how bored people are getting is how many readers I lose, and um...look, I'm sure I'll get back to talking about crazy Silver Age comics pretty soon, OK?
In any event, today I wanted to talk a bit about balancing the budget, and more specifically about the Republican plan for doing so. They tend to talk about it in two ways: First, about the need to cut taxes. (Which I'd be fine with, if not for the fact that Republicans only think taxes can go one way: Down. No matter how low the taxation is, you can always find Republicans who will insist that the only cure for whatever current crisis we have is to lower taxes.) Second, though, is that we'd be fine if we just cut all the "waste" out of the federal budget.
Now, I'm not going to say that there's no waste in the federal budget. In fact, that's why their argument seems so strong; every time someone makes it, they go through the entire federal government with a fine-tooth comb and find an example of someone whose job it is to regulate ear sizes on rabbits raised for meat, or a department that spent $50 million dollars on boats just in case they need to go to sea as part of their job at the Department of Cactus Management. That's part and parcel of any big organization; the bigger it is, the more likely that something nuts gets lost in the nooks and crannies. You also hear about it in private enterprise; I recall reading about one company whose inter-office mail was so inefficient that employees were sending envelopes from one floor to another via FedEx. (Federal Express: When you're absolutely, positively too damn lazy to walk it down three flights of stairs by yourself.)
But here's the key--just because you find waste, that doesn't mean that there's an unlimited amount of waste to be found. Once you find it and fix it, it's gone, and it's a relatively small percentage of the money you need. It'd be like finding two bucks in change in your sofa cushions one day, then finding another three bucks a week later, and somehow coming to the conclusion that you can quit your job and live off the unlimited largesse of your couch.
The decisions we need to make to balance the budget aren't easy ones. Anyone who says they are--Republican or Democrat--is either lying to you, or is too damn stupid to know what they're talking about. Either way, they should be kept as far away from government as humanly possible.