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I’m Back

Published December 31st, 2008 by tcarpenter

Although you wouldn’t know it from the appearance of the blog, I have made a number of posts since October 21.  However, in recent weeks both the website and blog have been down on several occasions, and when EasyCGI, the trusty host of this site, finally was able to restore access in late December, it lost all of the posts since October 21.  Apparently, they have disappeared into cyberspace with no hope of recovery.  This episode suggests that corporate incompetence is not confined to the Detroit automakers, Wall Street investment firms, and the mortgage banking industry.

Time for Serious Spending Cuts

Published October 11th, 2008 by tcarpenter

The price tag for the government’s attempted rescue of the nation’s financial system, which has been a spectacular flop so far, is likely to run into trillions of dollars.  Yet very few participants in the policy debate (with the exception of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr) have talked about making even modest cuts in federal spending to offset this vast new expenditure.  That is nothing short of irresponsible–and both major political parties are guilty.

It is imperative to jettison nonessential expenditures.  There are certainly plenty of candidates among domestic programs, starting with agricultural subsidies–a great reverse wealth-transfer mechanism in which taxpayers of even modest means are forced to fatten the bank accounts of even wealthy farmers.  I’m not an expert on wasteful and unnecessary domestic programs, so I will leave it to others to suggest additional cuts in what is clearly a target-rich environment.

If many of Washington’s domestic spending programs are luxuries we can no longer afford, that is doubly true of our military and foreign policy expenditures.  Foreign aid programs are obvious candidates for elimination.  America has spent nearly a trillion dollars (measured in 2008 dollars) over the past 60 years, and all too much of that money has simply gone into the coffers of corrupt politicians and their cronies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. 

But the wasteful spending goes far beyond foreign aid.  The United States spends roughly as much on the military as the rest of the world combined.  Promptly terminating the ill-advised crusade in Iraq would save $120 billion a year, but that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Our current annual military budget is nearly $700 billion.  Advocates of such a vast sum should explain why we need to have not one but two expensive new jet fighter programs when the U.S. already has overwhelming superiority in air power and there is no serious military competitor on the horizon for the next two decades–and perhaps longer.  At least one of those programs should be terminated.  The same is true of the program to build the Virginia class submarine, a weapon system that was designed to counter a Soviet system that was never built.

And someone ought to explain why the United States needs to keep nearly 100,000 troops in Europe to guard wealthy allies more than 6 decades after the end of World War II and nearly two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Our trusty NATO allies, who have used the U.S. defense guarantee as an excuse to underinvest in their own defenses for decades, are now citing the global financial crisis as a reason to cut their already paltry military expenditures even further.  But at the same time, they don’t want us to cut our military budget.

A similar situation exists on the other side of the world.  The United States continues to subsidize the defense of South Korea, even though that country now has a population twice the size of its only adversary, communist North Korea, and an economy some 40 times larger.

It is time to expel the international military welfare queens in Europe and East Asia from the U.S. dole.  We should have done that years ago, but the current financial squeeze makes that move not just desirable, but essential.