‘Tis the season for sequestration. Or almost, anyway. You may have been hearing that word an awful lot on the nightly news lately and wondering what in godswallop it means. Why is Congress running around like a bunch of terror-stricken ants trying not to get squished to death by giant sneakers? Clearly, they’ve pushed the panic button, and out come the impassioned rants. The political class is treating this like the difference between life and death. You’d think a series of solar flares were about to fry us all to a crisp.
But enough with the bizarre analogies. What the @!*#& is sequestration? There’s a term you won’t learn in Civics Class.
A little history is in order. Four score and seven years ago – erm, well, actually, just last year – Congress hammered out this little agreement. And in this agreement, they created a Super Committee that was supposed to, at least on paper, come up with a trillion smackers or so in spending cuts. Now, you’d think that with the prefix “super” before the name of their little board of accounting experts, lawmakers, and policy wonks, they’d use their presumably mutant powers to come up with a budget-balancing, deficit-smiting proposal of “rein ‘er in” snips and trims like, um, lickety-split or something.
Apparently, they kinda just … went through every department, agency, and spending program, one-by-one, and concluded after reviewing each and every single item that, well … this or that is “needed” or “vital” or “immune” from the proverbial chainsaw because that’s what my Social Studies teacher said, and there’s no way I’ll question her infinite, untold wisdom. At least that’s the sort of impression they leave on a person. In other words, they got nuthin’.
Theoretically, Congress could have started burning through the waste, pork, and excess themselves, but the lawmakers who actually, you know – were courageous enough to propose half-serious deficit-reduction measures almost had their heads decapitated by the spread-the-wealth, welfare-statist do-gooders in Congress and the kings and queens of Progressive political punditry. Take that for trying to have an adult dialogue about our nation’s financial woes, you incorrigible Tea Party terrorists!
The other part of the agreement – the portion that is causing so many folks to wring their hands in a manner similar to Popeye’s beloved paramour, Olive, as she’s being kidnapped – is the general understanding that, if Congress or the Super Committee fails to make any dent in this looping, swerving, zigzagging deficit of ours, cuts to the military-industrial-complex and worldwide American empire will kick in automatically.
And that’s what they mean by “sequestration.” Les horreurs!
Predictably, the inauspicious screeching about “national security apocalypse” is bipartisan in nature. Both sides are wagging fingers at one another, righteously bellowing, “They did it!” Contracting agency workers are being kicked around like political footballs, used as pawns in some twisted Congressional chess game. Our Red Team-Blue Team, Washington circus show at its finest, folks.
Here comes the theatrics. The Shakespearian drama. The crocodile tears. What a deplorable tragedy, the two parties weep. Why, if the – grrrrrr – other side didn’t do whatever it is they did, we wouldn’t have to pluck one red dime out of our defense budget. Now we shall all perish in a nuclear winter brought on by those wretched Iranians. How dare … the other side. How dare them.
But if we look actually look at this through the lense of partisan politics – and assume that this is a bad thing, which it isn’t – the Democrats would be the villains in this tale. Even with all the clout they’ve had in the Senate during these past couple years, they still failed to pass a budget. The auto-pilot “gutting” of the Pentagon (which is anything but) must be placed squarely on their shoulders.
Back to reality, though. If we look at this through the lense of somebody who judges a policy on its merits, rather than “who dun it,” the Democrats didn’t do too shabby. They may not like the fruits of their incompetence, but I’m not complaining. For once in your life, you’re useful for something. Even if it was a complete accident. Thanks, Democrats.
‘Bout damn time the overbloated military pork and defense contractor cronyism gets its place on the chopping block. Good riddance. It seems like the Pentagon has been promising an independent audit ever since “I Love Lucy” aired its first episode. Just a few more years, they always say. A date is penned into the calendar, we twiddle our thumbs until the day arrives, and then – what do you know – just a few more years, they say. The process repeats itself in vicious cycles. It’s sort of like how the debt ceiling isn’t really a ceiling because Congress keeps extending it. Or how the expiration date on your jobless benefits really isn’t an expiration date because Congress keeps extending those, too. “We’ll get to it eventually” is one of the State’s most devious lies.
“Sequestration” would finally force the Pentagon to set its priorities straight. Maybe our top commanders and military officers will actually have to, you know – start asking tough questions about how the American peoples’ money is being spent. Do we really need 900 bases in 150 different countries, and if not, which ones can we close down for good? How effective is Mission A and Counterinsurgency Effort B, and if it’s not bringing us the results we need, why are we still expending all of our blood and treasure on them? Are there some civilian contracting positions that really aren’t doing anything productive besides lining some pockets here and there? Is there a way for us to get more accurate cost estimates on our weapons development research, as well as price-tag projections for more large-scale projects?
It’s all about getting the taxpayers the best bang for their buck, baby. No more squandering money endlessly on tanks, planes, artillery, and weapons that aren’t needed. You know, the overkill. Bleh.
At present, though, the goal of our Pentagon gatekeepers and industrial defense tycoons seems to be to stuff as much of your money in their piggybanks as possible – not direct resources economically, for productive purposes.
There’s no reason for us, say, to have troops in Germany anymore. WWII is over, Hitler is gone, and I don’t think Nazis will be marching across our borders anytime soon. There’s no reason for us to have troops in North Korea, when its sister in the south is perfectly capable of guarding her own. South Korea is armed with grade-A military weapons, courtesy of the United States, and has an economy, if I’m not mistaken, that is quadruple the size of that 1984-style dictatorship to the north.
Are you telling me Pentagon officials can’t dig money out of their own pockets to pay for toilet plungers and gavels? How many blood-stained children have to line the graveyards before we stop dropping bombs in Libya or Pakistan? Let Afghanistan pave their own damn roads, build their own schools, and patrol their own damn villages. The only reason Europeans are hallowing out their military agencies is because, well, the U.S. has already agreed to pick up the slack. Tell them Americans need to clean up their own house before we can even think about being the watchperson for every global nook and cranny. And, um, how come the Pentagon doesn’t know where a trillion freakin’ dollars went?
President Obama, Nobel “Peace” Prize winner and alleged foreign policy “turtledove,” couldn’t give two Simoleans about any of these things, though. He’d rather slaughter Romney in the November elections than challenge those gruff dudes with the medallion-adorned uniforms. Our chief executive is quite the expert in political “face-saving,” so to speak. He’s got a master plan up his sleeve.
Obama’s Labor Department has informed taxpayer-guaranteed, government-subsidized contract agencies they don’t need to give fair warning to workers who will soon have to clear out their offices, pack up their bags, and head home. To hell with pink slips. Don’t Americans quite fancy “surprises” anyhow?
Well, I never! I guess Reagan-era regulations requiring contractors doing business with the federal government to notify their staff members of layoffs in advance – a couple months ahead of time, in fact – are totally irrelevant. This year, the scheduled date for doing so is, erm, four days before the election. Oh, hell naw. Obama ain’t gonna let that slip, yo. Sure, he was a staunch defender of the Reagan policy during his senatorial career, when Bush Junior was at the helms. But that was when it was politically expedient for him. He’s President now, for Vishnu’s sake, and there’s an election coming up. How can we let principles get in the way of the Anointed One’s glorious victory?
The truth is, we’ll just have to wait and see if Congressional lawmakers can push petty politics aside in order to do what’s best for this country. Grab the popcorn, and let sequestration begin.