By Taylor Armerding
The Hendricks County Flyer
Mon Mar 18, 2013, 03:27 PM EDT
It's been days now since the world ended, the sky fell, and Apocalypse Now descended on American civilization. I sprung the door on my survivalist bunker here in an undisclosed location a few minute ago, with my assault rifle and large-capacity magazine at the ready, to peek out and see what was going on.
I heard that the absolute worst has happened - because of the catastrophic budget cuts imposed by the sequester, the White House has canceled all visitor tours during the spring season.
Oh, the horror. Oh, the humanity.
Don't spread this around - I don't want my bunker to be picketed by middle-schoolers - but if this is what sequestration hath wrought, I say bring it on. Spring in Washington, D.C., could be beautiful with the cherry blossoms and all, but you can't get anywhere because just about every tour bus in the nation, laden with hyperactive, squealing, eighth-graders bearing handheld electronic devices, is clogging every available street.
Actually, I'm sorry the kids won't get to tour the presidential palace in D.C. I didn't get to go to Washington when I was in eighth grade, and look what it's done to me - left me skeptical, bald, and old. I wouldn't wish that on anyone - certainly not our children, who by the way are our future.
Seriously, though, the saddest thing about the sequester is how juvenile the whole thing is. It is not much of a stretch to think that a bunch of eighth-graders could do a better job tightening the nation's fiscal belt (actually, it's just loosening it a bit more slowly) than those who are in power.
The claim that cutting two cents of every dollar the federal government plans to spend over the next decade will unleash pestilence upon the land is an insult to "hard-working Americans" - you know, the people that President Obama and all politicians claim to respect and support so much.
The average working, taxpaying American has had to cut much more than 2 percent of the family budget since 2007, while federal spending has grown by 40 percent. Do you think they'd be screaming about an apocalypse if they were told their income was going to grow by only 38 percent during that time?
Yes, there is something bad about the sequester, but it is also due to political idiocy, not any real danger to "the most vulnerable among us" - another favorite phrase belabored to death whenever anybody suggests that government live within its means.
It calls for cuts to be made across the board, rather than by setting priorities. And it was created this way by both the president and Congress. A plague on both their houses.
Still, there is enough wiggle room in the sequester for the president to impose cuts that will not kick grandma and starving children to the curb - or cancel White House tours.
But, in the days leading up to the March 1 imposition of the sequester, the president toured the country (when he wasn't playing golf) to tell people that it would be a calamity. So, by golly, he's going to make sure that's what it is.
As the Wall Street Journal and others noted last week, while eighth-graders won't get to visit the White House and meat inspectors will get furloughed, there will still be plenty of money for "employees of the Agriculture Department (to) attend a California conference sipping 'exceptional local wines' and sampling 'tasty dishes' prepared by 'special guest chefs.'"
And that is only one of thousands of things that could be cut without any pain to citizens. Instead, the president has warned that the wait in security lines at airports will stretch to two, three, or more hours. All because those mean Republicans won't let him raise taxes on the rich - something they just allowed him to do, by $600 billion, at the start of the year.
This is so transparent and so typical, and yet it fools the American public every time. It happens at every level of government. If taxpayers in cities and towns vote down a property tax increase, what gets cut? Not redundant, politically connected employees at city hall, or trips to conferences for the retirement board. Not lavish benefits for public employees that are vastly more generous than those for private sector workers.
No, a firehouse gets closed. Community policing gets cut. There are threats to cut school sports or bus routes. Whatever will inflame and outrage the public - those are the first things to cut.
And the public is stupid enough not to ask, or go looking for where there is fat in the budget. Nobody looks at the contracts of the police and fire unions to see how much more paid time off, overtime, and other benefits they get than the average taxpayer.
It doesn't have to be that way. And Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is offering citizens to be something other than sheep who simply swallow what the president says. Check out #SequesterThis on Twitter, where average citizens can suggest what might be better to cut than essential services.
How about three White House calligraphers, at a cost of $277,050? How about eliminating a few of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 16,000 offices.
There's plenty of painless cutting that can be done. But it won't get done without an informed, active citizenry.
- Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.
March 3, 2014
February 27, 2014
February 26, 2014
There was a wide array of reactions to Seattle DB Richard Sherman’s post-game “interview” with Erin Andrews following the Seahawks’ NFC title win over San Francisco.
Mine? Laughter, as the shout-down was the most entertaining thing I saw all day.
January 28, 2014
Butler is still a long way from saving its 2013-14 men’s basketball season, but if the Bulldogs turn it around fully and reach the NCAA Tournament, it will have started this past Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
January 21, 2014
A fine season for the Indianapolis Colts ended with a whimper Saturday at New England, but in recent team history, it was far from the most disappointing postseason defeat.
January 14, 2014
The Indianapolis Colts’ miraculous 45-44 wild card victory over Kansas City on Saturday ended just after 8 p.m. After leaving Lucas Oil Stadium, it took until around midnight for the pounding in my head to subside.
January 7, 2014
December 31, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of the largest U.S. fraternities and the deadliest, said Friday it will ban the initiation of recruits, citing the toll that hazing has taken on its newest members.
March 7, 2014
© 2014 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. ·
CNHI Classified Advertising Network ·
CNHI News Service
Associated Press content © 2014. All rights reserved. AP content may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Our site is powered by Zope. Some parts of our site may require
you to download the Flash Player Plugin.
Terms and Conditions
Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN
8109 Kingston St., Suite 500