The U.S. Military Budget is Outrageous, Dangerous

Some bits and pieces from here and there:

  • A few people at least are beginning to look the sacred cow of the U.S. military budget in the mouth:
  • 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. Excerpts:

    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.”