Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sanity is too much!

In times like these, sanity is a pain in the ass because all that seems to be coming out of the Beltway these days is madness. Here we are, looking at an indebtedness in the neighborhood of $7 trillion, and Obama announces he is going to cut spending.

On the surface, this seems to be the sensible thing to do. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. According to Tuesday’s New York Times, “The estimated $250 billion in savings over ten years would be less than 3 percent of the roughly $9 trillion in additional deficits the government is expected to accumulate over that time.

(Billion/trillion, they rhyme nicely, but there’s a world of difference. Using seconds instead of dollars, a billion is the equivalent of 37 years while a trillion is 37,000 years.)

However, things really get crazy when we learn that none of these cuts will touch either the Pentagon or the Department of Homeland Security, the two running sores on Liberty’s face.


Here we are pumping $57,000 a minute in to the war in Afghanistan, in what has to be the dumbest military campaign since the French fought tooth and nail to control that vast wasteland known as the Sahara Desert, and Obama won’t touch the Pentagon.

Were a multinational conglomerate to buy out the Pentagon and do a cost-benefit analysis of the Pentagon’s expenditures against its gains, said conglomerate would not hesitate to break the place up, sell the constituent pieces and close it down. We’re looking at a major loss leader that is bleeding the country dry.

Every time I look at the Pentagon I see what could easily be the world’s greatest indoor shopping mall. It has everything a successful mall needs—the square footage and the parking. Instead, it is a rat hole down which our national wealth is being dumped.

Obama’s deficit cutting efforts remind me of the fool who tries to fell a might oak by plucking off a handful of leaves.

Sanity really sucks!


Ivan Hentschel said...

OK, Case: here is where the high school English comp teacher steps in and grades your essay. You really have three seperate topics here.

The first is the sanity conundrum. The second is the idiocy of the spending freeze, and the third is the military/indusrial economy the US operates (but only marginally thrives) upon.

Let's look at the sanity issue. To begin with, we don't have enough "sanity" for it to constitute a pain in the ass: all we have is insanity, the classic defintion of which is to continue "doing the same things you've always been doing and expect to get different results". Toward this end, Obama has yet to do anything truly new.He apparently just keeps re-doing versions of the same old things (his predecessors have done)over and over again. For such a smart guy, he can act pretty dumb.If we had some real sanity, we would not be writing this stuff.

Which brings us to the "insitutionally infantile" spending freeze we will hear about in the address tonight. This is just "same-old, same-old" political pandering, precisely when we need something truly forward-thinking and groundbreaking, financially and ideologically. On "Countdown", just last night, we heard quotes from no fewer than FOUR prominent economists, about why this action is wrongheaded, backward thinking and offers exactly the opposite action that is required to move the economy ahead at this time. Olberman gave Robert Reich almost 8 minutes just to detail how "insane" this proposal is. It is historically identifiable with bad thinking (See FDR an the Great Depression), is counter-productive and short-sighted, and probably being done to placate Republicans. I think Paul Krugman calls it "fatal"? Lethal? Anathema?

For Obama to blindly forge ahead with this "plan", in the face of such a massive onslaught of logical opposition, rather much points to his own insanity and absence of logic. There is no bravery or nobility in thinking tepidly and without the "guts" to break some new ground. In the end, I suppose temerity and insanity go hand in hand.

I would propose that the lack of sanity is not so much an apt description of this ongoing debacle as it would be perhaps an aversion to being logical in the face of choosing to be political. The freeze notion no doubt has its' roots in the urgings of the good ole' Wall St boys Obama has in his cadre, namely Geithner, Summers and Bernanke. (And while we are on that subject, the plethora of web articles in recent days, calling for the dismissal of all three of these pecuniary status quo moguls have been unrelenting. In an illogical, probably ego-driven, diversion from logic [insanity], Obama is ignoring all of them.)As you and others have already pointed out, it is less than a drop in the bucket, anyway.

Your last gripe/rant/obervation/complaint is about the Pentagon, which is only the frontpiece for the real problem, that being that the economic insanity of our culture comes from being driven by a military/industrial complex (and we all know that Eisenhower warned us of that insanity more than 50 years ago). This keeps the big industrial guns building more and bigger,more technologically complicated weapons of mass destruction, in order to keep filling their coffers, and the Pentagon keeps buying them. Our consequent production of real consumer goods ,real food and energy conscious materiel and the creation of real jobs, suffers from the insanity of neglect (have I used the word "insanity" enough?) This is also short-sighted and based upon the instant monetary gratification demanded by the CEO's and stockholders. And it ignores the long-term welfare of the "stakeholders" (that's me and you!)

I give you an "A" for ambition, but a "D" for disorganization (but determination) and a "C" for courage. Please have your revision back on my desk first thing before class, tomorrow morning.

Yours truly.

Ivan Hentschel said...


I had written a good deal more in the earlier comment, but your system told me I had to limit myself to 4,096 characters???? Don't know where you got that number, but, OK. So I had to edit out alot of my clever super-fluidity...

As soon as I was done, I looked at my new issue of NEWSWEEK. The cover story is a series of articles about Obama, by five prominent political essayists, collectively titled, "The Inspiration Gap".

Perhaps the "insanity" and temerity comes from a lack of inspiration caused by the fatigue of the office?

Just another way to look at the problem, I suppose.

Ivan Hentschel said...

And this belongs on the reading list:

Case Wagenvoord said...


It's back on your desk untouched and unrevised in all of it's orginal glory.

The sanity that I alluded to was ours, ie, it's tough being sane in a sea of madness.

Of course I jumped right to the Pentagon because a leading symptom of our leaders' madness is their detemination to keep our bloated and unnecessary military in operation even if it bankrupts us, whichit is.

Were the Pentagon a shopping mall our military contractors would have to find something useful to do.

p.s. I did not impose the word limit; Google did, but then they can get a little bizarre at times.