Two Must-Read Pieces

1. Tom Humphrey’s post about how all this “Washington’s wasteful ways” bullshit so popular among local politicians neglects to take into account that the only reason our state budget is balanced is because of Federal money. There is more federal money in our state budget than state money. Regardless of your political party, I think that should be disturbing to you. We’re not paying our own way. The Federal government is paying our way (and by extension, the whole nation) and yet we have the gall to talk about giving Washington the boot? Or meeting them at the border with guns?

2. This story about what’s going on in Nashville’s domestic violence unit is also something everyone should read and think about.

7 thoughts on “Two Must-Read Pieces

  1. Aunt B.,

    I thought Tom’s piece made a great deal of sense. Tennessee is one of those states that gets more money from the federal government than it sends in taxes. So it is somewhat ungenerous for us to complain about some aspects of that spending.

    But this does not mean that citizens of every state ought not to be concerned about the huge amount of waste created by Washington. From unnecessary defense procurements to failed programs to unneeded jobs to thousands of little abuses each day, the federal government wastes tens of billions of dollars every years.

    Consider for a moment that the funding portion of the health care reform act requires Congress to cut waste and fraud in Medicare spending by $500 billion over 10 years. If we can start next year cutting $50 billion, what does that say about the amount of waste and fraud each year over the last five, 10 or 20 years? And now Congress suddenly discovers that there has been so much fraud.

    No, Tennesseans should be appreciative of federal support on many levels. But we still have an obligation to demand that our tax money be wisely spent.

  2. I agree that Mr. Humphrey makes his point quite ably, but (perhaps out of politeness) he abstains from addressing what is most likely behind the ‘federal spending’ dog whistle. Conservative politicians understand that most of their base depends on federal spending for survival, and they probably know that most the base understands it, too. The problem with ‘federal spending’ isn’t that federal govt. is spending, it’s that it is spending on certain things and certain people.

    And there’s the rub, Mr. Rogers. ‘Wisely spending’ tax revenue means different things to different folks. To me, it means universal health care, renewable energy infrastructure creation, a national high-speed rail network, and a massive truncation of military spending (among other things). To a teabagger, it might mean anything but giving money to things that might help brown people and liberals sleep well at night. In other words, “federal spending” is only out of control when it goes to things that you don’t like.

  3. Mr. Holloway,

    Your second paragraph perfectly embodies the gulf in our political dialogue. I think every item you mention from health care to military spending is a legitimate subject for public debate and is a legitimate function of government.

    But if we do set up a national health care system, don’t you want to ensure that billions don’t get wasted or stolen? Would you like to see billions wasted on energy programs that never had a reasonable chance to work? Or a rail system that was designed to take longer to build and cost more but paid more to contractors and unions?

    Of course not. No one wants massive waste in any program. You want value for your tax money just like I do. Can’t we even agree that, regardless of what programs we adopt, it is in everyone’s interest to control waste. As a very liberal member of my church who was a federal auditor for years likes to say, if we could cut most of the waste and fraud in government, we could pay from health care and education and defense and other lots of other things.

    As for your effort to inject bigotry into the discussion, that is one more reason that our political system is so dysfunctional. Just like too many conservatives scream ‘socialist’ or other epithet, your comment had nothing to do with my initial comment. You just took a cheap shot to try and distort my points.

  4. So, Mark, you’re saying you’ve turned over a new leaf? No more comparing people to Stalin?

    Anyway, there’s going to be waste in any bureaucracy. Saying that we can’t do something or we shouldn’t do something unless we can somehow eliminate waste is basically saying that we shouldn’t do it.

    Some folks think that it’s worth letting some number of people game the system if it means a much, much wider number of people get help.

    So, no, we can’t all just agree on your framing of the issue.

  5. Mr. Rogers, I’m trying to figure out what you consider ‘bigotry’ and a ‘cheap shot.’ If it’s my reference to teabaggers, then I hope you are joking. If there was ever an example of political activism that makes no sense without the understanding of underlying racism and resentment, its the teabaggers. When illustrating that very important dynamic that Mr. Humphrey’s article avoids addressing, I could think of no better contemporary example than the teabaggers. Again, ‘wasteful federal spending’ in conservative-speak means little more than ‘spending that goes to the undeserving, and you know who that means.’ The bigotry inherent in that dynamic is not something I can take credit for ‘injecting,’ unless you’re accusing me of getting in a time machine to go back and instigate the Translatlantic Slave Trade.

    In any case, the programs I favor have not even been honestly tried, so hanging them with imaginary wasteful spending at this point is a bit disingenuous (or self-defeating, depending on how you claim to be looking at it). Military spending, on the other hand, has come to exist primarily to justify its own existence, and has become the very epitome of wasteful government spending. And what B. said.

  6. Please, Sam. I think you mean the Transatlantic Triangle Trade? On a side note, I read that the state of Texas is too poor to buy the new textbooks that would, hypothetically, meet their stupid standards.

  7. Ha ha! That’s good, B. What a country. Just think: in a few days, it will again be time to celebrate our nation’s birth by blowing shit up. How appropriate. I suggest adding to the symbolism by flushing a toilet every hour, on the hour.

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