Some bits and pieces from here and there:
- A few people at least are beginning to look the sacred cow of the
budget in the mouth:
- End the Empire and Build America suggests Peter G. Cohen
- Chris Hellman looks at the real U.S. military budget, which is something like 1.7× the number usually tossed around in media accounts.
- Those two pages come from the site of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending which is coming up on .
- Amy Goodman notes that all of the state government budget deficit problems that are causing such hand-wringing anguish amongst pundits and government employees could easily be solved just by bringing home the U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and keeping the money we spend to keep them there at home.
- There’s a good interview with nonviolent resistance scholar Gene Sharp in Reason.
- Drug warriors publish reports touting their successes that have all of the charm and veracity of Mao-era reports on the latest record-breaking grain harvests. We’re driving cocaine production down, say one set of reports. We’re seizing more cocaine than ever, say another. A group of skeptical reporters in Italy took a look at the numbers and realized that this year, the trend lines crossed, and the drug warriors expect to be so successful that they’ll seize fully 103% of the cocaine produced worldwide this year.
- Remember when the divided Congress was teasing us with the possibility of
a “government shutdown?” Heh. We should be so lucky. Thomas Knapp of the
Center for a Stateless Society gives us the low-down on
Government Shutdown Theater.
When the organs of of American government come to loggerheads on the federal budget, a temporary shutdown of “non-essential services” ensues until one side caves.
Oh, no, Br’er Bear! Please don’t throw me in the briar patch! Unfortunately, the compromises usually come fairly quickly. Government shutdowns generally go a few days. The record is three weeks. We’ve seen 15 of these shutdowns since the Carter administration, which should tell us something about how non-traumatic they really are.
So what, pray tell, is the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential?” Here’s an easy way to tell: If the shutdown of a service irritates and inconveniences ordinary people, but doesn’t really reduce the power of politicians, that service is “non-essential.” If shutting down a service would actually reduce government’s control over your life, it’s “essential.”
[For example] During a shutdown you can’t get a passport from the government. Your ability to travel is “non-essential.” If you show up at the border, though, there will still be a customs official waiting there, demanding to see said passport. The government’s ability to control your travel is “essential.”