Saturday, March 23, 2013

Keeping Score

For those of us who like to keep track of such things,
Following is a list of events in Washington
Which may indicate a return to fiscal sanity.
It is open-ended to recognize new developments.

A bipartisan agreement fostered by
Senator Mitch McConnell and VP Joe Biden
Made permanent the present income tax rates
For all but the highest one percent of payers.

A small reduction in federal spending
Required by the President went into effect.
Unless deliberate action otherwise is taken,
Reductions will increase annually.

A funding resolution for continuing the
Operation of the federal government
Passed Congress, without alteration to
The previous acts described above.

Now the battle of budgets unfolds.
None will be sufficiently acceptable.
A "compromise" may be passed that
Will be face-saving but ineffectual.

(Updated April 11, 2013)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DoD Budget

A recent poll shows public sentiment
Shifting toward a balanced budget.
If true, this portends cutbacks
In all federal expenditures.

For the third time since World War II,
The Department of Defense
Is facing a major hit.
Where will the reductions come from?

For particulars, I ask opinions
From my esteemed colleagues
Who made military service
Their lifetime calling.

I can only offer an observer's views,
Starting with public opinion
On the national defense budget:
The people will not support another foreign war.

That would seem to argue for
Severe reduction in force for the U.S. Army;
And recasting the size and mission
Of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Will the Air Force become mainly
A technological and unmanned operation?
Are bombers and fighters yesterday's tools?
Will transport be the fliers' main role?

The Navy might be a winner, by virtue of
Its ability to monitor the hot spots on the seas
And deploy an instant attack force.
But are their ships too vulnerable?

Where does that leave nuclear weaponry?
We say that we will never use it
But maybe soon somebody will.
What do we if a putative ally is threatened?

Incidentally, lost in this big picture
Will be the fate of our service academies.
Will the Army still need eleven hundred
New officers from USMA every year?

Maybe it is time to dust off my
Previous warning that the fate of West Point
Again will be in jeopardy, leading to
Privatization to keep it functioning.

That would be a minor matter
In the large scheme of things, but symbolic
To the extent and dimensions of
Halving the U.S. budget for national defense.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Populist

He is not a bad man;
He is an intelligent man.
But he is ignorant,
And thus incompetent.

He is the Peter Principle writ large,
Rising to the highest level of incompetence,
Above any role that he was prepared for,
Nor than he can manage successfully.

His ego tells him that he is the anointed one.
He surrounds himself with hacks
Who are as ignorant as he is
About the workings of the economy.

In meetings with those who do,
He becomes embarrassed by his ignorance,
Changes the subject abruptly
And dismisses them quickly.

He has noble aims, like all populists,
To better the lives of the common people.
He is perfectly willing
To bankrupt the country to do so.

He delegated to Congress
Full authority to spend as they please,
So they fashioned programs that are
Huge, unworkable systems.

The people love him, the majority that is,
Because they believe he can do magic.
When they confront their situations,
They will realize they have been cheated.

The due bill is enormous;.
Someone has to pay it.
That can only come from
Higher costs and reduced income.

However, all is not lost.
There are grownups around
Who will chip away at
This wall of misguided governance.

More important, this is America.
The animal spirits are still alive.
Those who can, will work around
Whatever obstacles are in their way.

The economy can still arise
From its deep slumber,
In a way that is harsher
Than the people expect.