The latest fiasco out of Washington is sequestration. Talking with school finance office Jill Morris last week, my jaw hit the floor when I heard what programs would see cuts – special education, head-start, programs for low-income students.
Sorry, this to me is completely unacceptable. We as a society have a duty to provide services to our most vulnerable. Across-the-board cuts make that harder to do.
Then there were signs of economic improvement. Now I’m not going to stand in Court Square and sing “Happy Days are Here Again,” but there was some improvement. Slashing the budget equates to layoffs. How can recovery continue with a percentage of the federal workforce going on the dole?
Then I thought about what types of jobs would be cut. Some schools may be forced to lay off teachers. Some federal agencies such as LBL might have to make cuts. I might know some of these people.
What about Department of Justice employees or Homeland Security? These are people who we depend upon to keep us safe. Will the FBI lay off agents? We know about the detention facility that freed illegal immigrants, and have heard the Transportation Safety Administration may have to cut its work force.
I’m not a huge fan of the TSA, and think their methods are far too invasive. At the same time, Holly and I are going on a trip this month. I feel a whole lot safer when I realize there has not been a skyjacking since Sept. 11.
Then there is the debate about spending. Do we cut defense or entitlements? I for one believe the U.S. needs a strong national defense. Some pentagon programs do not make a lot of fiscal sense.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be used by the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. It is the costliest fighter ever built, yet it does nothing that any service wants it to do. It could possibly be rendered obsolete by unmanned aircraft before it ever is deployed in force. Every week there is a new bug, and half of its computer code is unwritten. In short, it’s waste.
Is there waste in domestic programs and entitlements? Of course. Entire industries receive subsidies when recording record profits. Failing businesses are supported when they should be allowed to fail.
Then there are the personal entitlements: welfare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps. People do abuse these programs and there is plenty of opportunity for reform. That said, there are a lot of people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Work is hard to come by these days and people need a safety net.
Other people are physically or mentally incapable of working and need public assistance. To end all public assistance, or withhold it from people in true need, would be a mistake.
At the start, I mentioned Frankfort. Our state lawmakers have been in session for more than a month, and had really only one mandate: reform the pension system. If they cannot find common ground during this session, they could meet again in a special session. The blog Bluegrass Politics said that will cost Kentucky taxpayers $60,000 per day.
Legislators used to communicate with each other, not at each other or through the media. While the solutions they compromised were developed may have been imperfect, at least they were solutions. They gave a little for the good of their constituencies.
Now we’re suffering for the sake of short-sighted political agendas.