I just understood where the fracture lies between Republican politicians and tea party activists and more or less tea party followers like me: I was watching Neil Cavuto on Fox News today Cavuto was interviewing Senator Tim Coburn of Oklahoma. Coburn is a good Republican with excellent conservative credentials. In other words, he is not one of those “Eastern” wishy-washy, effete, “liberal Republicans,” not by a long shot. I am not about to burn a straw-man. (I rarely do and when I do, I tell you in advance.)
Cavuto was trying to draw the Senator out with respect to earmarks. Earmarks are little gifts tucked into a bill to reward those who vote for it and that have nothing to do with the project the bill is funding. The Senator, more or less answered Cavuto’s questions regarding earmarks but his language struck me. He kept referring to “waste” and “fraud” in government spending. This is where he leaves me.
Of course, I want waste and fraud reduced butt that’s not my main objective, not a by a long shot. Instead, I want nearly all government spending reduced including spending that is neither wasteful nor fraudulent. Here is a concrete example: We don’t need a federal Department of Education. The Constitution does not allow for one. Education is clearly a local and a state responsibility. The Federal Government has not business in that field. Nevertheless, I could be talked into allowing temporarily a federal office of education statistics. Quantitative figures are useful much beyond the cost of gathering, stocking and distributing them. They can help states do their job in the field of education. It could be argued that the federal department is well located to handle data, pending a cooperative agreement between states to handle the job. With my proposal, federal spending on education would be reduced at least by 9/10.
Here is a second example: Every year, the federal government, through its Department of Agriculture, gives away large amounts of money to agricultural corporations. It’s your money and it’s my money. There is no reason for this subsidy. If these corporations are not able to grow corn with my tax money, they should just stop trying. Maybe, they can try growing organic leek, I don’t really care. And if the Federal Government let me have the money it gives away to the farming interests, I might put it toward buying a car. It might even be a Chevy; you never know. There are powerful reasons to stop so-called “farm” subsidies. One of them is that they are unfair to growers elsewhere in the world. Small African cotton growers are on record stating that they will beat the price of American cotton on world markets if it stops being subsidized. Sounds to me like small African farmers have a moral right to compete on level ground. Sounds to me also that if they win, there will be cheaper cotton for me. That’s another strong reasons to stop agricultural subsidies.
Liberals, whose minds normally work like the minds of precocious eleven-year old, are lying for me in ambush when I speak like this: How about military expenditures, they ask, with what they think is final brutality? The answer is that I would probably increase military expenditure. National defense is clearly within the purview of the Federal Government in the Constitution. And yes, I do think we have enemies and we would have enemies whatever we did because so much of the world is a basket-case and envious. Also because so many rely on magical thinking to designate culprits for what ails them. (See my 9/25/10 posting on this). I read libertarian sources frequently but I have not yet seen a practical alternative to placing national defense, the defense of this whole society, in the hands of anyone but the Federal Government. I long for such an alternative, of course.
In the meantime: Mr conservative Republican Senator: You don’t get it. We want much less government spending beginning at the federal level. We just want less, including of honest and efficient government spending. Period. How difficult is this to understand?
PS My wife and I have spent a little money to Christine O’Donnell. We don’t care whether she has a chance to win. It’s a good, peaceable way to show the left-pundit and the political class that we are pissed off. We did it also because Sarah Palin asked us to.This election is going to be a revenge election. I like it that way.