Many of us who wore the uniform in years gone by consider the announced military
cutbacks to troop strength and technology development to be Draconian in nature and an unwise national policy.
Military veterans are the first to admit that left unchecked the perceived needs of the Industrial/Military Complex can spin out of control. President Dwight D Eisenhower,an astute retired career soldier, warned in his presidential retirement speech to "beware of the dangers of the industrial/military complex". Eisenhower’s warning, given during the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, was a call for better oversight by Congress, not an emasculation of the uniformed service. Let’s compare President Eisenhower’s warning to President Obama’s proposals:
The chickens have come home to roost. The nation is broke and most members of
Congress admit cuts have to be made in our drunken spending spree. The only question by some career pols seems to be where to make temporary cuts to buy time before the entire system implodes as they sneak out the back door with golden parachutes. How about domestic entitlements? Na, that ain’t going to work. They don’t want to stir up a hornets nest. Better to make cuts in the military establishment where the members are more focused on doing their duty and don’t have community organizers sounding the alarm when entitlements are even mentioned let alone threatened.
Shazam! Military strength is to be reduced by 80,000 active duty troops while domestic entitlements continue to spiral out of control. A perfect example is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) more commonly known as the food stamps program. In the year 2000, SNAP covered just 17 million Americans with an annual cost to the taxpayer of $18 billion. Today, more than 48 million Americans receive food stamps at an annual cost of over $78 billion and rising at an alarming rate. By the way, that war on poverty is going so well that despite the all out SNAP assault, public service announcements plead for more private funds to properly feed the estimated one in four children who still go to bed hungry or malnourished.
Several of my liberal friends near the farm challenge my pessimistic view of ineffective domestic welfare programs. Based on local observations they’re right. Here in the Northern Tier the ineffectiveness is relatively minor but then so are the number of families who depend on these services. However, travel downstate and you don’t have to pass Williamsport before you observe an increase in program dependency. Continue your journey to the Harrisburg area and the pattern becomes more pronounced. By the time you reach West Philadelphia the government dependency is both epidemic and horrendously expensive with questionable value to the true victims.
Now I never met a government bureaucrat who couldn’t justify the need or effectiveness of their agency. Armed, many times with academic studies funded through government grants, they petition Congress or Harrisburg with their panacea ( more resources for their war on poverty). Me, I’m from the old school that recognizes bartenders and grocery store managers as astute faculty members from the School of Hard Knocks. Take last week:
I’m sitting in a downstate watering hole near Harrisburg nursing an inexpensive 16 ounce Yuengling draft while I catch up on local news from old neighbors. The
bartender Bob knows the business and family background of every patron in the house.
An independent building contractor sitting next to me is complaining about the difficulty of finding and keeping reliable help when the subject turns to the politics of dependency.
With Bob’s assistance we do a silent inventory of the bar and to our chagrin determine that 40% of the patrons are on food stamps and 25% collecting unemployment checks.
I’m pleased to report that none were parked in the handicapped spaces outside( there are still a few spots sacred, even to folks riding in the wagon). To add insult to injury, several were drinking imported beer. Just for the record, there was not a single person of color in that watering hole so all you liberals who want to paint anyone critical of social services as a racist, find another brush.
The next day on my way back to the farm I stopped to shop at a food market where the manager was an old friend. On the last trip down state I had asked him to make an observation of customers using food stamps and comparing the age of their cars to folks on Social Security paying with cash. The results of his observations were disturbing. The gray haired customers,by a significant margin, were driving older cars than the green swipe card folks. But here’s the part of this unsophisticated, but accurate social observation that was particularly stunning: One of his green card customers was driving the civilian version of a Humvee!
We’re about to ask the best among us to make even more sacrifices in manpower and equipment while this administration sends recruiters out into the countryside to swell the ranks of the dependent. That may be smart Chicago style politics but I think it stinks as a national defense strategy. Who would you prefer behind the wheel of a Humvee?
Retired Consulting Engineer and Farmer