Back in the 1950’s, a British professor at the distinguished University of Malaya, C. Northcote Parkinson, observed that as the post-war Royal Navy shrank in size, its bureaucracy continued to expand.
Parkinson formulated a law that bureaucracies will naturally grow at 5-7% per annum. He also wisely added ‘Make the people sovereign and the poor will use the machinery of government to dispossess the rich.’
All bureaucracies, public and private, must be periodically forced on a diet. US President Donald Trump is, as promised, taking an axe to Washington’s dense bureaucratic undergrowth. He claims the cuts will save $2.5 trillion over ten years.
On Trump’s black list are, for example, such do-nothing government institutions as the International Fund for Ireland ($25 million); US Trade Development Agency ($55 million); Community Development Fund ($4.5 billion to buy black votes); funds for Federal office space ($864 million per annum, thank you Prof Parkinson); USDA sugar subsidy program at $14 million; $900 million for administration for the cancelled Obamacare health program; mohair subsidies ($1 million) and so on.
That’s the sensible part. Now the bad. High quality public broadcasting is to be gutted, saving $445 million. Americans will be left with sports, game shows, and soap operas. Funds for protecting the environment, a growing urgency for America, are being slashed, delighting many flat earth Republicans. Rail subsidies are cut even though decent railroads are a hallmark of civilized nations.
The State Department budget will be slashed by 28%. Some of its 70,000 employees will be let go. One must wonder what all these pencil pushers have been doing. Germany’s total active army has only 63,400 soldiers.
What we are seeing is that everything hated by President Trump and his extremist advisors has been put on the hit list. By contrast, they seem to believe that the United States is in imminent danger of invasion by scimitar-waving Muslims. By contrast, if you’re a Hillary Clinton Democrat, there are Reds lurking under every bed. The Red Peril has replaced the Yellow Peril. We are kept in a constant state of paranoia.
Trump plans to boost the defense budget – which should be called the `offence budget’ – by $54 billion to a total of $664 billion. But wait, that’s not all.
There are numerous big military spending programs, veterans’ affairs, nuclear weapons, so-called homeland security, and maintenance that take the budget up to $773 billion. Add to this paying for the ‘foreign contingency’ wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Plus hundreds of bases around the globe and ‘black programs,’ adding up to about $1 trillion annually.
The US military budget is already larger than the defense budgets of China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, and Japan – combined.
I had dinner one night in Nice with a French navy admiral. He told me, with a melancholy look, that the US Navy’s annual budget was larger than France’s entire military budget. Russia’s military budget is around $70 billion to defend one of the world’s largest nations with NATO on one side and China on the other. That’s less than one tenth of the Pentagon’s annual budget.
It’s interesting that Trump & Co. have cut funding for US allies, culture, education, the poor, and just about everything else except the Pentagon and Israel. Not a penny was reduced from Israel’s recent grant of $38 billion in arms spending over ten years. Not a peep about this from Congress or Trump.
I’m sorry that Trump did not level with Americans over financing our endless wars. Today, their costs are hidden into the ever expanding national debt, now approaching $20 trillion.
Americans should be taxed to pay for their wars. An honest war tax would show Americans the real cost of their imperial adventures and spare their children from having to pay for such dumb wars as Afghanistan and the Mideast.