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Drastic Cuts in Spending are Needed Now

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The Treasury Department has revealed that sometime in late April or early May the federal government will eclipse the current national debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion. Of course, this means that Congress must act before then to either raise that figure in order to continue spending to meet its budgetary requirements or cut spending to keep from exceeding the limit. Needless to say, the battle lines are drawn. Democrats are on one side appealing to the emotions of average Americans by claiming that Republicans hate them because they intend to vote against raising the debt ceiling; thereby forcing a shutdown of the federal government and consequently denying them of their federal largess, which in the last few decades has become their birthright. For their part, Republicans are proposing, a whopping $60 billion in federal cuts. This must be a cruel joke! Sixty billion dollars out of a $1.6 trillion deficit? The reaction of both to the current situation is indicative of the fact that we are in real trouble.

There is only one course of action our overlords in Washington can take and that is to cut federal spending by $738 billion over the next six months thereby making raising the debt ceiling a moot point. We have no choice, and here is partially how it could be done.

First of all, whoever said that government jobs should be recession-proof was a fool. The private sector has laid off millions in the last three and half years, there is no reason why Uncle Sam shouldn’t significantly cut his workforce as well. The average bureaucrat makes between 30-40 percent more in salary than their private sector counterparts. They have more generous benefit packages and pay next to nothing for their retirement and health care packages. By cutting hundreds of thousands of paper pushers, we can save money and free up resources for the private sector to create real jobs.

We can cut the federal payroll by eliminating several departments and agencies. For example: the Department of Education. Since its inception in 1980, Uncle Sam has appropriated over $1 trillion to that department. What has it accomplished? We are still dissatisfied with our education system. Eliminate just that one bureaucracy now and we save $37 billion over the next six months.

Then there is the Defense Department. As a nation we spend most on our defense; as a matter of fact, we spend more than the next six highest countries combined. In his most recent press conference, President Obama said tough choices have to be made in the budget debate. But, he questioned whether we really wanted to be a nation that cuts funding for baby formula to poor families. He should also be questioning whether we want to be a nation that spends hundreds of billions on a war machine that kills millions and ties up capital at the expense of millions of Americans needing jobs. At around $750 billion a year, we should end the empire, bring the troops home, and restore sanity to our defense spending. We can no longer afford it.

There are also many federal government programs that should be abolished immediately to save money; for example, farm subsidies and NASA. Farm subsidies should be killed because they go mostly to large agribusinesses anyway and are immoral in these times of increasing food prices and possible worldwide food shortages. NASA should face the axe because whatever worthwhile benefits it produces can be provided by the private sector for a lot less money.

And speaking of increasing food prices, they are with us and are a major reason for getting our fiscal and monetary house in order. Because the world’s commodities are purchased in dollars, a devaluation of our currency has caused prices to spike worldwide. In the last year the price of wheat has skyrocketed by 114 percent and corn has soared by 88 percent. That is what all the fuss is about in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. If Congress decides to monetize more debt, prices will only rise further. At some point, unrest could spread to the U.S.

It is a sobering circumstance to say the least. Now is not the time for class warfare or ridiculous proposals to cut spending. What is needed is statesmanship. Nothing less than worldwide peace and tranquility is at stake.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • troll

    bring on the cuts…it’s only in the face of draconian measures that we will see a revolution develop

  • In a sense, the conservative reaction reminds one of the draconian measures taken up by the falling Arabian regimes. Little do they realize they’re only expediting their eventual demise.

  • Boeke

    The DoD should be severely cut for two reasons: (1) it’s a big welfare sink for sunset industries that don’t produce useful weaponry anymore, and (2) we need better, lighter, cheaper, more flexible weaponry and leaving things in the hands of the current oafs is not doing the job for us.

    Cut Defense spending drastically to drive deadbeats into retirement and open up the field for newer, sharper guys.

    Modernize. Address modern issues. All we have right now is a heavier, slower version of WW2 weaponry.

    The proof of the DoDs failure is evident in the 9/11/2001 attacks which they were powerless to stop and couldn’t even form a post-attack response.

    The current DoD is a failure. If we had to depend on them a troop of girl scouts could bring the USA down.

  • Boeke

    Cut farm subsidies and put the Agriculutural/industrial back in the business of providing good foods at reasonable prices.

    What we have now is a monopoly financed by your tax dollars.

    Cut out ALL the special interest corporate subsidies. The Senate/House Joint Tax Committee says they cost us $270-$300billion PER YEAR!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    A quick note ’cause I don’t have long – it’s true that you don’t educate kids by throwing money at them…but you sure as heck don’t do them any favors by cutting education budgets to the bone.

    That, and why don’t you consider what would happen if there were not national standards for education, if every state had different standards? Think that one through….

  • Clavos

    what would happen if there were not national standards for education, if every state had different standards?

    We don’t need a giant federal bureaucracy (and didn’t have one until 1980) with an annual budget north of $60B just to standardize curricula.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You imply that we somehow ‘got along fine’ before 1980…but you’re forgetting that there are FAR more demands on our educational system than there was thirty years ago.

    How about you go here and find out what the Dept. of Education does, and how much bang we get for our taxpayer bucks.

  • Boeke

    1980? Do you mean that the Ed Dept is another screwup of the Reagan administration?

  • Clavos

    Glenn, the proof of how much “bang we get for our taxpayer bucks” lies in how badly US students fare in tests by comparison with other developed nations — we’re 25th out of 34 OECD countries.

    Not much “bang” at all, but not surprising, it’s the government, where no one, (especially not teachers) is accountable.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    I currently work at a private American school. It is financed heavily by American companies doing business in Qatar. Our every decision is based on what is good for student learning. Our test scores are very good. No unions, no bureaucrats, no politicians, and no massive federal department of the government is even remotely involved.

    We are currently moving to a standards based curriculum. Most standards systems are very similar, but one size does not fit all. Anyway, we are doing all this without government. I just thought of another idea for an article.

  • Clavos


    Growing up in a foreign country, I went to a school similar to those you teach in. To this day,I remain convinced that I received a much better education than I would have in a contemporary government school in the US.

  • We had a balanced budget just 10 years ago.

    It was thrown out of whack by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, insanely accompanied by huge and unnecessary tax rate reductions.

    The ‘welfare state’ will be a larger part of it in years to come, because of health care costs [a situation the Obama health reform will improve, not worsen]. But the welfare state did not cause this ‘crisis,’ if that’s indeed what it is.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    Our experience with international schools is indicative of the fact that the private sector provides services way more efficiently and effectively than the government. I might also add that international school folks are way more tolerant.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I think you and Kenn are making the mistake that you so often accuse me of making – the “causation-correlation” logical fallacy, in that the results of the school system are there because of the DOE, rather than looking to see if there are other causes.

    If you’ll ask the teachers why they have such a problem, they’ll give you answers that are in no wise related to the DOE:

    1 – LACK OF FUNDING: this is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. With lack of funding comes shortened school years, a much-lower teacher-to-student ratio, and a slashing of classes that are not related to the core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. For instance, many computer programmers (such as I was) will tell you how important an understanding of music and art is to programming, for programming uses the same set of skills that are needed for writing a story or a song or painting a picture. When I was growing up, I was able to take art classes at a public school – do we see that now? No. There’s no money for such *ahem* frivolous things like art, and not much for music.

    2 – Abysmal teacher pay. Why would we expect our teachers to do a proper job when many of them have to get a second job just to pay their bills? And when they’ve got families of their own, this makes it nearly impossible for them to devote the after-hours time that teachers were able to give when you and I were growing up.

    3 – Social issues such as there being so many latchkey kids and kids who do not receive the guidance and support they need at home – and why? Because the parent (all-too-often SINGULAR) is working two jobs because there are so few jobs that pay a LIVING wage are getting scarce as hen’s teeth.

    4 – The Drug War, which has failed miserably and is perhaps (except for our military budget) the biggest financial boondoggle of our time. I think ALL of us here can agree on this one!

    5 – Crime and guns…with few exceptions you hardly ever hear of kids bringing guns to school in other countries. But here, we see news reports on a monthly basis of teachers, principals, or fellow students being shot by other students. And my neo-con friend is absolutely sure the solution is to let all kids have open-carry and bring guns to school! I’m sure none of you are that loony-tunes, but many neo-cons are.

    6 – And HERE is the ONLY issue where I agree with you – as in any other job, teachers who don’t perform must be fired, and the school board must be empowered to do just that. While this is a major concern, the lack of funding is by far the greatest problem.

    Clavos et al, as long as we keep slashing the funding of schools and then – when the schools have an ever more difficult time educating our kids – we slash their funding even more, we’re setting our schools up for failure. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR – and if you refuse to pay the taxes needed for a top-notch education, well, yeah – you’ll get what you paid for: a crappy education.

  • Boeke

    13-Kenn says:

    “…the private sector provides services way more efficiently and effectively than the government.”

    I’ve never seen proof of that. How could it be since the private sector imposes the extra costs of profits and huge executive salaries? The cost savings that WOULD be afforded by competition are negated since most contracts are sole-sourced, thus obviating the competitive advantage.

    There’s no magic in private administration, private managers are not better than government managers.

    Anyway, the last 30 years have seen tremendous ‘privatization’ of formerly government functions, and that corresponds with the collapse of our economic system. We’ve never been more ‘privatized’ than we are in this era of Bush/Reagan deficits.

  • Clavos

    I’ve never seen proof of that.

    Then you must be blind.

    One example: Both FedEx and UPS are immensely more efficient than the USPS (which has lost billions every year for the past several years) — to the extent that USPS now contracts out much of its business to them.

    How could it be since the private sector imposes the extra costs of profits and huge executive salaries?

    It’s precisely the need to make a profit that makes private enterprise more efficient. By contrast, the government has no pressure (until recently) to be efficient, and few government workers are accountable to anyone; even fewer can be fired. Both these conditions engender extreme inefficiency and even outright malfeasance and misfeasance. Few, if any, private companies will purchase $600 hammers under any circumstances.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    In light of our national bankruptcy we have no choice but to cut unnecessary costs. The money the DOE devours could go directly into schools. Why do we need a federal filter to absorb huge amounts of money that otherwise can go right into classrooms.


    Wow! All one has to do is look at the disaster that was/is the socialized world – Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba. China is now more successful because of its liberalization of its markets.

    It’s an undisputed fact that the private sector is more efficient and effective than the public sector. We are in a financial crisis because of the public sector – $14 trillion in debt for God’s sake!

  • Lack of funding for public schools is a crock! Private schools in this country, for the most part, run on much smaller budgets and produce much better results.

    They have to produce or people won’t pay. Public schools don’t care, they get paid either way. I promise you that there’s not one private school in this country with a classroom full of paid teachers not working because they’re waiting for a hearing. And I promise you that there’s not one private school in this country that would fire or lay off a teacher based on time of service as opposed to performance. And I promise you that there’s not one private school in this country that’s half as top heavy (read:over administrated) as any underperforming public school

    Public school priorities are all FUBAR. They worry about their jobs instead of worrying about their students.

  • Clavos


    I see the problems of teacher pay and union dominance of school systems as the primary problem with the educational picture in this country. These two phenomena result in mostly the lesser college students opting for careers in education, and once in, the unions prevent culling out the deadbeats.

    See the movie, Waiting For Superman for an excellent analysis of this.

  • Doug Hunter


    Yes, but even though some government employees may not be productive in any meaningful sense it provides another middle class job, another job requiring a degree and hence education, another person keeping up with the Jones’s in an upper middle class neighborhood buying houses and cars and stuff while taking the pressure off the unemployment list.More velocity of money (they’re just going to spend their salary as soon as it hits the account anyway, and they’ll spend it at the stores of the wealthy)

    It may indeed be busywork, but busywork may be required to make sense of our modern economy. I really don’t know, it’s very complicated to understand how these things work.

  • “Abysmal teacher pay. Why would we expect our teachers to do a proper job when many of them have to get a second job just to pay their bills.”

    Teaching is a vocation, Mr. Glenn, a labor of love if I may be so blunt. I’d be teaching for next to nothing and consider it a privilege, but no, I refuse to get a worthless but required MA in Education on general principles. So that part of your argument doesn’t hold.

  • Public school teachers get paid too little because public school administrators get paid too much and there are too many of them. It’s that simple.

    It’s like watching a union job on the highway. 10 guys standing around while one guy fills the hole.

  • ll

    That way of business went out a long time ago. That is the kind of thinking that causes people to hate unions. Get rid of the teachers union and watch the pay wages drop. You’ll have teachers making less than 14 bucks an hour. I’m a school custodian and we use to be part of the teachers union. We voted to leave, dumb move. Our health insurance is now a crappy managed care system. We call the new workers 2to1’s. Their pay starts 10$ lower than the old pay rate, which is half of the old pay rate and the company can now higher two people for the price of one. You think some students are idiots now, just wait and see how stupid they’ll be when the union is gone or powerless.

  • Kenn,

    While cuts in spending are indisputably not only needed, but absolutely necessary, one must go about doing this in a pragmatic and rational manner. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s gung-ho approach to taking care of his state’s financial crisis is proving to be a dismal failure, and should serve as an example of how not to execute a fiscally conservative agenda.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    With your analysis of government jobs then essentially what you are saying is that Washington should put have the unemployed to work digging ditches and the other filling them up. That way we would have full employment and people could buy the shovels to make us all rich.

    Only jobs that produce things of real value create wealth. Some government jobs are necessary, but don’t create real wealth because people do not demand them. If your premise was correct then there would be a lot of 3rd world nations that would be well off because a large portion of their population works in the public sector.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Sorry #25 – Silly me we would continue buying the shovels from the Chinese and they would continue to get richer.

  • Ruvy

    Well, Kenn, this is one of the articles where I can agree with you. In fact, let me lay this out for you. It ain’t much, but it would help.

    Cut out aid to the State of Israel. Once you give the poodles on Government Hill who suck at your teat the boot, they will have to think for themselves – or we will have to kick the bastards out and put in people who DO think for themselves.

    Cut out aid to all the little Arab princelets who you think will protect you against your enemies. Just cut out the bullshit and take over the wells yourselves. Cut out aid to Egypt. Pull your soldiers out of Iraq and replace the military in Afghanistan with a well armed force comprised primarily of doctors, nurses and the like. My brother Children of Israel, the Pashtun, can protect themselves against the Taliban and other Wahhabi shit – but they do need the medical aid. Humanitarian aid to the mountain tribes of the Pashtun near the Helmand Line is a good investment.

    Get rid of Riyadh. A nuke or two would do. All those Wahhabi bastards in Arabia are good for is raping women and abusing children, anyway. Ask the Swedes (not the government, the rape victims – there are lots of them – NOW). Ask the thousands of Filipinas and Indonesian women raped as well in Arabia. Do the woprld a favor for a change!

    Solve the Iranian problem by nuking Teheran and Qom and gettiong rid of the festering sore of Shi’a messianism. Let them get too strong and they will slit your throat in a crusade of establishing the “mahdi”.

    Start cutting out cabinet departments and get rid of all the damned czars. The DOE can go, privatizing the post office and allowing them to develop a “postal bank” for basic banking services would help you all immensely,

    A lot of the functions of the DOT, Depts. of Commerce and Labor can be combined – getting rid of tons of useless bureaucrats. Also, a lot of the functions of the Depts. of Agriculture and Interior can be combined. If I had a chart of all the useless agencies of the American government in front of me, I could make a twenty or forty item list of agencies to get rid of.

    Finally, do learn from those of us who know how to do things better than you. Lose the TSA, replace it with an Israeli trained force to patrol airports, train stations, etc. Lose Homeland Security – you don’t need these fascists in your government. Reclaiom your freedoms and assert them, like a free people should! Also, get rid of your cumbersome defense establishment. Establish a unified force with a centralized command. Do you reqlly need a separate navy, army, and air force constantly fighting turf battles – and wasting oodles of money doing so?

    Anyway, that’s about it for now. I’m in an internet cafe and have to move on to other topics. See ya later.

  • 21 – Roger,

    Teach in an alternative school. Or start one! If I had children I would happily offer your school to them as a choice.

  • In fact, Roger, let’s chat. Perhaps at some point we should start a project. There is no reason that a virtual school with its own chat classroom couldn’t be effective in the age of technology.

    (I have seen them in action already, in the hands of average and typical curricula.)

  • well, you know what i mean

  • Roger,

    Here is A.S. Neill’s book about his radical school Summerhill, free online. I highly recommend it.

  • Hey, Cindy, a lady of action. Sure, let’s talk.

  • Boeke


    “Wow! All one has to do is look at the disaster that was/is the socialized world – Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba. China is now more successful…”

    Those are/were COMMUNIST countries, Stalinist, dominated by someone very like the typical CEO of an american corporation.

    But you didn’t mention Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc., whose socialist public agencies provide healthcare at a 30-40% discount from what it costs in the USA, where public transportation is effective and inexpensive, etc.

    “It’s an undisputed fact that the private sector is more efficient and effective than the public sector.”

    I dispute it because everywhere we look we see the failures of privatization, and you can start with healthcare and go right on to our privatized military which hasn’t won a war in 60 years, except the war against American taxpayers, whom it continues to enslave and abuse.

    There is simply NO intrinsic reason that a private outfir would work better than a public one. The only thing that makes a difference is competition, and companies work tirelessly to eliminate competition with sole-sourceing, buyouts, monopoly and outright bribery of officials (now that SCOTUS has made corporate bribery legal the ROI on buying congressmen is the best investment a CEO can make).

    “We are in a financial crisis because of the public sector – $14 trillion in debt for God’s sake!”

    Brought about by a failed wildcatter who fatuously styled himself “the CEO President”, and whose second in command said “deficits don’t matter”.

  • troll
  • Doug Hunter


    Kenn, first off it’s not my analysis, it’s my assertion that I’m not sure the full effect and that yes, it could be a useful tool (not a model for the whole economy). You clearly understand the simplistic version of supply side economics typically parroted on the right, but if you do a little more critical thinking perhaps you’ll start to recognize some of the complexity inherent in economics.

    A good starting point would be to consider the true nature of ‘value’. It’s easy to understand the value of necessities: food, clothing, and shelter. It’s also easy to make an argument for tools, processes, and technology that makes production and our lives simpler and more efficient. Beyond that, what about entertainment? What about status symbols and personal items and conspicuous consumption? If everyone caught a disorder and decided piles of dogshit made good knick knacks for the mantle, would the world’s wealth improve every time a dog took a dump (maybe labradoodle shit would be a status symbol and cost double)? From my perspective, half the junk people buy is about as useful as a pile of dogshit. Don’t even get me started on mankind’s superstitious obsession with the yellow metal you can’t eat, wear, or live in (and it don’t make good weapons either) …gold.

    Think of the life cycle of ‘stuff’ that doesn’t fall into the necessity or efficiency category above, it takes resources and human capital to create ‘stuff’ that then consumes more life to purchase and maintain and house/store, and further resources to dispose of in the landfill with the only ‘value’ being a fleeting sense of consumerist joy or keeping our minds occupied uselessly. If you accept the definition of value as something that creates a sense of happiness, then yes, you start to open the door to things such as I mentioned above it’s just beyond the scope of a comment to make the full connection.

    ** Perhaps a good rule of thumb value measure would be if an alien spaceship dropped billion (environmentally friendly)pallets of it in the Pacific ocean would the world be a better place? Medicine? Yes. Computers? Yes. Plans for alternative energy plants? Yes. Knick Knacks? No. Gold? Not appreciably. Mariah Carey CD’s? No. Would a billion pallets of Rolls Royces be any better than a billion pallets of Honda Civics?

  • There is something to be said for the economic fallout that’s likely to result even from nonproductive, civil servant jobs.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. The beauty of the market is if enough people demand piles of dogshit then some entrepreneur will supply it. Government does not work the same way. It supplies what the politicians and bureaucrats believe to be demanded and is usually way off base.

    Sound economies are based on savings and private investment. We got into this current crisis because most Americans had high debt already and then the public sector invested huge sums of money into housing. This caused a bubble (malinvestment) because the government not the market decided what was demanded. We will not recover until that malinvestment is liquidated.

    To give folks government jobs simply so they can spend the money they are paid is not going to produce an economic recovery.

  • Doug Hunter


    1) You’ve got to consider that in a nominal ‘democracy’, the government supposedly supplies something akin to what people demand.

    2) I’m not advocating for government spending or more civil servants, just pointing out that the economy is not as cut and dried as it’s sometimes made out to be. Like the dogpoop example, values and what is “productive” is a bit squishy and smelly. Stimulating demand is not always a total waste and delivers on giving people a sense of being and happiness just as much of the rest of our ‘productive’ economy is designed to provide

    **When you’re 14 trillion in debt it probably shouldn’t be at the top of your toolbag, you’re preaching to the choir.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Lemme see here –

    We’ve got conservatives here who STILL think that public school teachers get paid too much! Do they get paid more than private-school teachers? Sure – but many private schools are run by religious organizations and do not face anything like the challenges faced by public schools. Furthermore, children who are attending private schools normally come from families who can AFFORD the tuition fees to those schools – and so those schools don’t face ANYTHING like the challenges of schools that serve poorer communities! One who has a more challenging job SHOULD get paid more…and private schools do NOT normally face the same obstacles faced by public schools. I know this from personal experience.

    Furthermore, teachers’ wages have lagged significantly behind most of the rest of the economy. Remember the level of education that it takes to be a teacher, and read on:

    • An analysis of weekly wage trends shows that teachers’ wages have fallen behind those of other workers since 1996, with teachers’ inflation-adjusted weekly wages rising just 0.8%, far less than the 12% weekly wage growth of other college graduates and of all workers.

    • A comparison of teachers’ weekly wages to those of other workers with similar education and experience shows that, since 1993, female teacher wages have fallen behind 13% and male teacher wages 12.5% (11.5% among all teachers). Since 1979 teacher wages relative to those of other similar workers have dropped 18.5% among women, 9.3% among men, and 13.1% among both combined.

    • A comparison of teachers’ wages to those of workers with comparable skill requirements, including accountants, reporters, registered nurses, computer programmers, clergy, personnel officers, and vocational counselors and inspectors, shows that teachers earned $116 less per week in 2002, a wage disadvantage of 12.2%. Because teachers worked more hours per week, the hourly wage disadvantage was an even larger 14.1%.

    • Teachers’ weekly wages have grown far more slowly than those for these comparable occupations; teacher wages have deteriorated about 14.8% since 1993 and by 12.0% since 1983 relative to comparable occupations.

    Furthermore, for those who complain about the ‘benefits’ that teachers get:

    • Although teachers have somewhat better health and pension benefits than do other professionals, these are offset partly by lower payroll taxes paid by employers (since some teachers are not in the Social Security system). Teachers have less premium pay (overtime and shift pay, for example), less paid leave, and fewer wage bonuses than do other professionals. Teacher benefits have not improved relative to other professionals since 1994 (the earliest data we have on benefits), so the growth in the teacher wage disadvantage has not been offset by improved benefits.

    There is nothing – NOTHING – in our federal or state budgets as important as education…and it’s about doggone time that you conservatives MAN UP and realize that you get what you pay for…and when you’re not willing to pay top dollar for our childrens’ education, then your children will NOT get a top-notch education!

  • I’ll say it AGAIN..teachers get paid too little because administrators get paid too much and there are too many of them.
    You’re all for the redistribution of wealth in the private sector, why not in the public schools also? ShitCan some of those adminstrative positions, lower the salaries of some others and redistribute those salaries.

    Problem solved.

  • Clavos

    From my perspective, half the junk people buy is about as useful as a pile of dogshit.

    Possibly, but so what? Its production creates jobs and income for people, which in turn creates jobs and income for other people,