Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Short Term Solutions, Long Term Problems

There has been, as most are aware, an overlong debate in Washington over the federal budget for the year. To date, lawmakers have merely passed stopgaps and pushed back the deadline for a final vote, tending to cut bits and pieces at a time rather than a large portion at once. This has caused a great amount of turmoil, and both sides are pointing fingers and blaming opponents for not cooperating.

The reason I think this might be good is that it is giving us a chance to think about the long-term effects of the cuts that have been proposed. For example, the initial budget put forth by the GOP called for a 28% cut to the funding for the National Weather Service, including the centers that monitor and report warnings for earthquakes like the one that struck Japan and had minor effects on the U.S. west coast. Had the original budget been adopted, that 28% cut would have been immediately implemented, and the safety of millions of people would have been put at risk. Imagine what would happen if there wasn't someone there to read the seismograph when a real shaker hit California. How many people would die without prior warning? Is it really worth it?

Of course, there are other examples, but the problem is that the effects of these cuts could be very long term, a generation at least in some cases. Look at education. GOPers calling to cut funding for things like Head Start won't see the error of the decision until those children flunk out of college or can't finish high school. Cutting education in any way shows few immediate effects other than the loss of job and increased class size, fewer classroom instruments for instruction, and fewer education services. As if that were not enough, the long term effects are worse still. Lower graduation rates, lower college attendance, lower overall grades for kids who come from larger classes and/or receive no Head Start or other services.

Unfortunately, our lawmakers seem to be looking at the short-term gains of their decisions. They are not looking at what it will cost in the long run. Why not cut something that is overwhelmingly expensive like defense? Why not slash military spending and force the pentagon to be more fiscally responsible and selective about its weapons and technology programs? Why not cut the funding for the federal government, cut the wages of our lawmakers, and make them pay taxes? It makes more sense to me that we cut spending in every area. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with Rand Paul on that point. Everything should be considered, even Defense and congressional budgets.

Here's a good opinion piece on Medicaid as an example.

1 comment:

Poetry of the Day said...

stop printing money, problem solved. id rather have deflation of currency rather then inflation. inflation is LAME AS FFF