It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meanwhile at the Other End of the Avenue

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rand Paul proposes half a trillion in cuts to the US government, including:
  • National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is cut by $857 million.
  • NIH is cut by $5.8 billion.
  • DOE is completely defunded, with some nuclear-related tasks shifted to DOD.
  • NASA is cut by $4,500,000,000 (25%)
  • NSF is cut by $4,723,000,000. (62%)
Science? What science?


Lou Grinzo said...

It's nothing more or less than playing to the base. He knows there's zero chance of these cuts happening, just as there's zero chance of the things the Tea Party really wants coming to pass. But making this proposal earns him some cheap points with his base before harsh reality sets in.

Michael Tobis said...

For now, at least.

The thing is, the Pauls are sincere and really do represent a huge swath of the country.

Nick Dearth said...

I hope he didn't propagate that list of proposed cuts through the interwebs.

Deech56 said...

There are any number of people who believe that if the NIH (my home turf) ceased to exist, pharmaceutical and biotech companies would take up the slack.


keith said...

"represents a huge swath of the country."

Really? Care to be more specific.

I could go on and explain why Rand Paul (and Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman and Newt Gingrich) are great for the Democrats and Obama, and possibly their best chance to start over in 2012. But I already did that here:

Michael Tobis said...

Keith, that is short term thinking.

Long term, the paranoia that is in the wild among the general population seems to be invisible to most well-educated folks, and the extent of the implicit danger is too.

It's probably a class thing.

Also, there's a lot of confusion about whether these are "left" or "right" wingers as came up in the Arizona shooting. No. The people who think 9/11 was an inside job and the people who think Obama is a Kenyan spy are often the same people. Certainly they have the same cognitive (I won't say intellectual) style. They don't believe in the biblical creation story. They believe in astrology. All sorts of things that would to a sensible person appear incompatible, because coherence is not an issue and most Americans are not especially sensible.

Believing in magic is normal in the US. Yes, it's quite feasible that Palin is a gift to Obama. Ron Paul would not be, and the fact that his young clone is a senator proves that.

These people are decent, sincere, irrational and ignorant. And in many states there are a lot of them. It's not just the south. Consider Jesse Ventura.

There is no limit to the damage they can do, and an occasional setback for them is not going to resolve the problem.

You basically can't have a democracy among people who hate government. It is guaranteed to fail, and all along the perpetrators will continue to blame the wrong people for their troubles.

keith said...

I'll repeat: the Republicans (I named) unleashed and unbound are a boon to Democrats and a ticket to a do-over in 2012. (And as I said over at a recent Chris Mooney thread, a re-elected Obama won't be encumbered by short-term political needs.)

I can't tell you what the long-term political landscape will look like--who can? But based on recent history, if I were a Democrat, I would be cheering for the tea Party Republicans to be front and center in the public eye.

Michael Tobis said...

Right, but what if they win?

keith said...

"What if they win?"

Then I won't write any more posts with your name associated with the headline, "Doomsday Chronicles."

John Mashey said...

"You basically can't have a democracy among people who hate government."

Recall that some very rich people really want the Federal govt especially to shrink away or at least not work and are willing to pay heavily to help that along.

David B. Benson said...

Read Thomas Frank's The Wrecking Crew.

Andy S said...

Isn't this simply class warfare? The republican leaders keep saying it isn't; so it probably is. Mr. Mashey sums it up well. How to balance the budget? Simply raise the income tax to levels seen the last time we were deeply involved in war; the levels we had under Eisenhower or Kennedy.

Why is this idea almost never floated? Raising income taxes is not mentioned as a solution on the network news, NPR, or in the newspaper I read.

As a Texan you realize that our State's budget crisis is largely manufactured. A known mess up of the new business tax (Strayhorn quote and leaked Dewhurst memo in the Houston Chronicle confirmed that last week), a refusal to dip into the rainy day fund and a refusal to raise taxes or royalty levels on oil produced and now we have to cut essential social services such as education.

I believe if someone offered Rick Perry 30 billion dollars to fix our budget woes he'd turn it down if he could do so in secret.

This is a manufactured crisis to dupe the lower and middle classes into accepting their obliteration for the benefit of the wealthy.

Why all the talk about public employee pensions? You're a member of the TRS, correct? That pension is almost fully funded and yet there is now constant talk of doing away with it. This is definitely class warfare.

Why does Rand Paul want to cut science? Because it is a threat to his ability to tell lies and control to the citizenry. When someone can point out the error in his philosophical pronouncements, such as "global warming is a hoax"; then he may not get his way and he throws a hissy fit and vows revenge.

This is not sincerity. It is mania dosed with deviousness and selfishness.

Michael Tobis said...

Andy, I don't read it that way. I read it as the bafflement the elite have been selling the hoi polloi coming home to roost.

Red staters vote against their interest because they associate Wall Street with liberalism. I know this is hard to believe, but that's the way it is. They vote Republican because they support independent small business and oppose corporations who they see as allied with big government liberals.

It's a weird worldview.

It's served Wall Street well, but it's gotten out of the control of the corporate elite now. They don't know how to put the genie back in the bottle.

Dan Olner said...

Was just hit with a really visceral sense of what's going on, after reading Andy S's comment, particularly about cuts to education. Here in the UK, the `coalition' of tories and lib dems are pushing through massive cuts, as well as more or less privatising the NHS.

Prior to election, they made a lot of promises, including 'no top-down reorganisation of the NHS' They also said no major-public-owned bank saved during the financial crisis should pay more than £2000 bonuses, and it's since transpired they were actually pushing for the opposite.

It just struck me with some force: the result of the financial crisis appears to have been a massive swing to the right. The sociology of it is straightforward, isn't it? 'It's the economy, stupid.' Inglehart discovered the basic fact from the data: economies under pressure push people to the right.

It's worth noting though: that's not what happened in the UK - not entirely. There was a shift to the right, but not big enough to give the tories a majority. They have nevertheless used it as a platform for a radical agenda, while all the time simply - as far as I'm concerned - lying about what they're doing. (e.g saying what they're doing to the NHS is not a top-down reorganisation, when every single body involved is telling them it's the biggest shake-up since the NHS' inception: that's just brazen lying.)

This is odd, isn't it? MT, you say that `you basically can't have a democracy among people who hate government. It is guaranteed to fail.' That's a problem going way back: what if people democratically decide they'd prefer no government? (Sailing close to Godwin's law here!)

My point is something different: I don't understand where people pushing this right-wing agenda are getting the wind for their sails. We didn't vote for it in the UK but it's happening anyway. It's only a year since we were not that far from money stopping coming out of the cashpoints and governments were throwing money at the banks in quantities that could have fixed climate change several times over. Amounts of government spending that could never, ever have entered into politicians' discussions about spending on health or education. But now, here we are, facing a right-wing resurgence. WTF?

I'm probably being too UK/US centric. What else is happening out there?

Mike said...

NSF cut more than half ? US was seen as the research eldorado by Europeans. I guess it won't be the case anymore if such cuts are undertaken. Pressure on research projects in the US is already quite high ; with such cuts, some labs may be forced to close (as it already happened with NIH fundings, if I remember correctly).

Michael Tobis said...

Mike, it's just a senator, so far. This won't happen for at least another two years.

Michael Tobis said...

Dan, Inglehart's observation can't be universal. The depression pushed America into liberalism in the first place. It's still Roosevelt's ghost that the Republicans run against.

Michael Tobis said...

David, thanks to my appreciation of Frank's previous book, your reommendation, and the Kindle, I am already reading The Wrecking Crew.

It's a bit of a long-winded rant; it could have made its point more tersely. But if any subject matter ever deserved a rant this one does. It's a fine read if you are sympathetic to his point of view.

Alas, he is doing a certain amount of preaching to the choir. Exposes of "liberal" excesses in the same vein turn my stomach. But they suffer from being manipulative and wrong.

I'm not sure this effort will do much good, because the people who most need to read it, won't.

I was stuck at Opryland hotel once, may it rest in pieces, and found myself watching the news on TV. It was like being on a different planet.

Still, I'm afraid Frank is pretty much right. He is perceptive and in a way entertaining. Its gloomily funny to read someone saying all the stuff about post-Reagan America that just isn't supposed to be said.

guthrie said...

Dan - I read a bit about Ireland last year. The rebellions which created independence for it in the early 20th century were carried out and directly supported by a very small percentage of the population who basically got on and did what they wanted.

It is perhaps analogous to now. We have a very small percentage of the population carrying on with what they want to do. Nobody is stopping them, because all other opposition has been flattened by 30 years of centralisation and destruction of alternative power centres. In the UK we have it good because we have a social safety net, which many people don't believe is the target of people who's only belief is in making money*.
The problem is that since we've had things pretty easy, there is as yet no comparative backlash, both philosophical and physical, available. No unions, no left wing parties etc. Instead, the entryist Blair took the labour party to the right, and the liberals have ceased dabbling with freedom and democracy in favour of power. There will be no fight back until things get bad enough that the majority of the people start asking what is going on. Perhaps the USA is a lost cause already, but I don't think so.

*My sister refused to believe they want to privatise the NHS. Sucker.

manuel "moe" g said...

[Note on language: I make no attempt to use sympathetic language here. I prefer visceral descriptive language.]

One minor point: the progressive elites did a disservice to the great unwashed by allowing trade liberalization without using the benefit to help pay for job training and social safety nets to those most likely to lose a living wage.

This does not completely explain Palin, probably doesn't even explain 25%, but it should make progressive elites red-faced with shame, myself included.

David B. Benson said...

Michael Tobis --- Good. Now just encourage many of your fellow Texans to read it as well.

Hank Roberts said...

> That pension is almost fully
> funded and yet there is now
> constant talk of doing away
> with it.

"Because that's where the money is."

Same reason they want to turn Social Security over to the stockbrokers.

David B. Benson said...

Instead defund DoD about 80%; that'll save around $400 billion.

Now we're talking real money!

Marion Delgado said...

Ayn Rand teaches that Science can NEVER be done by government, and in fact, can NEVER be done by more than one lone genius individual at a time. Working for a businessman.

She really does teach us that.

So, really, QED.

Marion Delgado said...

A much more blase and formal presentation of roughly the same stuff as the Wrecking Crew is JK Gailbraith's "The Predator State," Michael.

As a bonus, it puts the words "state" and "predator" next to each other, so Republicans, Tea Partiers and Libertarians might read some of it.