Cutting The Fat

Copyright © by Len Holman, 1/12/12


  OK, I give.  I have seen the light. We need to tighten our belts, stay within our means, leave the rich people alone to create jobs (they’ll be starting that any moment now), and NEVER, ever tax anyone at anytime—except for the ones who can’t contribute large amounts to a party or a candidate.  This all reminds me of any zombie movie you’d care to name.  Zombies eat human flesh.  They growl and stumble all over and are difficult to stop, but—I always wonder—what happens when they eat their last live human?  The zombie appetite for live flesh will have Darwinian consequences, resulting in the not-so-gradual diminishing of the zombie population to zero. 

  If the wealthy continue to be allowed free depredation of the underclass (the rest of us), who, eventually will sell them their boats, clean their toilets, mow their lawns and walk their Borzois?  Who will buy those bundled securities sold to them in the guise as a hedge against spending their old age sleeping in culverts?  In short, who will serve the elites?  Will they end up like Zombies with no one to eat but each other?  This is not idle speculation, since the mantra of conservatives, repeated over and over and promulgated by governments at all levels, is that cutting everything will Save America, or Restore America, or whatever.  This includes our President, who has decided to create, over time, a leaner, more efficient, military, which will—even though smaller and lighter, still be able to project American power worldwide—still be able to fight two wars at the same time, and respond to the exigencies of the world’s rising and ebbing catastrophes. 

  Republicans were very quick, predictably quick, to denounce the diminution of our mighty armed forces, preferring one Marine per Mullah, and one soldier per Muslim rug weaver.  No amount of money spent on our military is too much money for some politicians.  If that means cutting back on areas not critical to the arms industry, then so be it.  I mean, how much do welfare moms contribute to the war on terror after all?  And all those people on unemployment, the ones we pay not to work?  Can they be relied on to fight off Iranian assaulters storming into downtown Los Angeles?  No, they’ll be busy watching those 42-inch TVs they bought at Wal-Mart with taxpayer dollars.  In spite of what most economists say, in spite of historical data, putting government dollars into the private sector is just wrong.  If a few bridges fall down or a couple of roads open cracks wide enough to swallow 18-wheelers then let drivers use alternate routes.  There is waste, right here in River City, and it impedes our march toward the conquest of the universe…or at least the conquest of those messy Gulf states. 

  Some conservatives have suggested eliminating many of the cabinet positions we have come to know and love, and it certainly can’t hurt to take a look at some of them for that purpose.  The Department of Energy, for example, is unnecessary.  We have so much coal, we could use it for hundreds of years and never run out.  Some of it…well, most of it, is dirty and burning it to make electricity makes porpoises cough and small children become small, sickly adults.  The Upper Big Branch explosion and the BP oil spill were merely consequent actions of digging around in the earth for needed energy.  The crabs are coming back to their homes and the miners are back at work.  We don’t need bureaucrats in Washington to tell us that.  No one twisted any arms to get people to work a mile underground.  It’s the market, my friend, working its Invisible Hand magic. 

  A former Secretary of Defense, the esteemed Donald Rumsfeld, wanted a leaner military also and met with some resistance from just about everyone.  Now our President has decided to do the same…but that will NOT mean shutting down the Army Of One or not always being faithful or anything because the President has the keys to the Predator drone garage.  He has access to every black ops unit in the American arsenal, the Defense Authorization Act, and he has those ever-ready “private contractors” who make more in a month than the average soldier does in his or her whole tour, including combat pay.  All this leanness is going to cost money, which can easily be paid for by eliminating the Department of Education, which probably should be called the Department of Testing.  Let the states decide what kids should be taught.  There are bound to be a lot of openings for people with degrees in witchcraft or Christian theology in the coming years.  As for all those Title 1 kids, let them work as janitors, pay their fair share of taxes, and further reduce our debt.  As for the Food and Drug administration…who needs it?  The free-market pundits already know that once a food is identified by the eating public as unhealthy or poisonous, they won’t eat it.  If they don’t eat it, the company that produced goes out of business and stops producing bad stuff.  It’s also a warning to other in the same field to produce less risky food. If a few people die, it will be worth it as the market adjusts and everyone ends up eating organic soy burgers. 

  But the main concern of conservatives is the military.  Let the housing market crumble.  Let consumer debt mount.  Cut every conceivable service the public needs, but keep the military budget robust---some might even say bloated.  But Obama has the toys to make up for the boots.  The problem may be that not every problem the U.S. sees is one which military might will solve, or only solve for the short term.  Sooner or later, troops will be required.  Contractors, elite teams of special ops guys, drones, or whatever will not be enough—and then what will America do?  That may be the next President’s problem…but in the meantime, let’s not forget what fat has done for us:  if not for fat, our brains would not have grown large enough, had enough energy, to be able to figure out how to use your kid’s Blu-Ray player.  Fat helped us evolve, for good or ill.  Fat gives flavor to meat.  Fat has become a pejorative political term.  It means stuff someone thinks is wrong, immoral or unavailable to him or her.  But if cutting is what is needed, then let’s do it and get it done right.  I think we should start with the congress and see how our democracy goes.  If that doesn’t work, we can ask Ron Paul what to do next.


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