Cuts - Curse? Or Cure?

Donald Trump's budget shows that cuts are possible.

Donald Trump has rolled out his first budget, and the reviews are exactly what you'd expect.

It's been a long time coming, but DeMint and the rest of the greasy barbarians at Heritage finally got most of what they asked for.

This proposed budget isn't extreme. Reagan's proposed budget in 1981 was extreme. This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich.

What qualifies a budget as "barbarian" in the eyes of our leftist elites?  Anything that reduces government dependency or liberal propaganda efforts:

Who in the hell zeroes out Meals on Wheels? Who decides that a program that spends $3 million to help volunteers feed the elderly and infirm in their communities is something that the country can no longer afford?...

The National Endowment For The Arts?  The National Endowment For The Humanities?  The Corporation For Public Broadcasting?

Who in the hell zeroes out the NEA, or the NEH, or the CPB? Who decides that rural museums, and Ken Burns, and Antiques Roadshow are too elitist for a country full of righteous bumpkins?

As always, the polemicists who infest our national media cloak their bigotry in false assumptions and bogus questions.  The right question to ask regarding Meals on Wheels is not "is it a good idea to help the poor elderly" but rather "is this the proper job of the Federal government, as opposed to the state and local governments that might actually know the needy as people, which some far-off Washington bureaucrat never will?"  The unstated assumption is that more federal funding - that is, more forcibly-extracted taxpayer dollars or dollars printed out of thin air - is always good no matter what it's spent on or by whom, so long as it's some unelected bureaucrat who can be counted on to vote for Democrats.

Arts funding is even more absurd.  Even the most died-in-the-wool fundamentalist conservative generally agrees that we really would rather not have impoverished elderly folks expiring in the streets from starvation Charles Dickens-style.  Why, though, is it the proper place of government to spend taxpayer dollars on art that most taxpayers don't even like?  There are plenty of enormously rich people who are happy to shell out to have their names on art galleries, or to purchase works of supposed art at their own expense.

The only real purpose of government arts funding is to provide job opportunities for the over-educated and under-talented children of our elites and their retainers who refuse to do anything useful with their lives.  The fact that this gives them the opportunity to gleefully offend the rubes is icing on the cake.

What about the educational mission of public broadcasting?  True, most Americans do consider it the legitimate job of government to ensure that children are educated, though again, local government does so far more effectively and efficiently than the feds can.  Nevertheless, precious few county school boards could afford to produce, say, Sesame Street.

Fortunately, they don't have to.  Sesame Workshop, which has produced the show for nearly a half-century, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Haven't you seen the countless Big Birds and "Tickle-Me Elmos" in stores throughout your lifetime?  All those profits go to subsidize the show, which in turn promotes the products - not so very different from any other cartoon marketing tie-in.

The taxpayer subsidy is a small fraction of the overall Sesame budget, which could easily be replaced.  If we can't cut Big Bird, whose owning corporation pays the boss a million dollars per year (twice the President of the United States' salary), we can't cut anything.

We're still left with the starving elderly, though - there's no profit to be made off them.  If they don't have money for food, which clearly they don't or they wouldn't be starving, and being sufficiently elderly as to be unable to earn money through honest labor, surely their fellow Americans ought to do something to help?

Absolutely.  In fact, they already are - as leftist reports tell us even while bemoaning the cuts!

Senior citizens in one suburb could see Meals on Wheels deliveries cut in half if President Trump’s budget cuts become reality, a spokeswoman for the network told CNN, as it anticipated “deep cuts” to a nonprofit that serves 2.4 million Americans.

Donations surged to 50 times their daily rate Thursday, the spokeswoman said, after the White House proposed eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program. [emphasis added]

Think through what has happened here.  The Trump Administration has proposed a budget which cuts a portion of funding that may result in cuts to Meals on Wheels, which may result in cuts to the specific program in this "one suburb."

Trump's budget may never be passed - Congress hasn't actually passed a proper budget in years.  If and when a budget does get passed, it will no doubt be larded up with all kinds of additional pork-barrel funding as always happens.  Do we really think there aren't going to be hordes of Congresscritters fighting each other to claim credit for "restoring Meals on Wheels"?  Any actual cuts to this program have such a twisted and improbable path to follow that only a fool or a leftist propagandist would portray them as if they were a done deal.

And yet... caring Americans, warned of even this extremely remote and improbable "threat" to the welfare of seniors, have opened their own pocketbooks to the tune of fifty times the normal rate of giving.

The plain truth is, Americans are generous, and don't want the elderly to starve!  Our big-government elites will never admit this, but the only reason most Americans don't do more is because they don't have to - government does it for them, with their money after skimming a huge fraction for bureaucratic overhead off the top.  If government left the responsibility and the money to the citizens, the good work of charity would still get done - probably more effectively, and definitely more affordably.

Once again, we see the genius-level media jujitsu of The Donald.  Without even passing a budget, he's already proven that conservative principles are right and the leftist principles of socialism are utterly wrong - and he's using their own house organs to spread the good word.

In fact, whether these specific cuts go in or not doesn't matter much in the overall scheme of things; we're spending so far beyond our means that these trifles are nearly irrelevant.  Unless Trump attacks the budget with a chainsaw, it'll never balance and we'll eventually run out.

Too much government spending is self-correcting - the cancer kills the patient and they both die.  As our book discusses, society collapses when government costs more than taxpayers can afford.

Spending will be cut, either the hard way through politics or the very hard way through collapse.  There's simply no way to avoid cuts in the long term; the only question is when and how they'll come.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

I find lefty complaint of "serve the rich" amusing.
Perhaps a check on the proportion and amount of national income going "to the rich" during the years of the Obama Administration would be in order.

March 22, 2017 10:39 PM

Now we have to subsidize the Dependency State for the elite! It seems like they want their kids to grow up to be like Chelsea Clinton. Mooch off the parents legacy, and serve on a lot of boards of institutions and non profits and look good doing it. Never do much to help real people , but get a lot of applause from fellow elites. Trump is right to de-federalize these " causes". My cable TV supplier has over 200 channels . If PBS can't fit in with this plethora, than maybe it should be a YouTube channel. Then the liberals can watch their fund raisers non stop.
I once delivered Meal on Wheels for our church. The recipients usually griped about the quality of the food and looked like obesity,not starvation, was their big problem. It is a relic of the pre food stamp era. And should be abolished.

March 22, 2017 11:03 PM
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