Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Budget Hawk 1

I'm a budget hawk. I want the budget to go down for a while, to make up for all the time it's gone up. I'm also an Islamic fascist hawk. I want Islamic fascists to be defeated, to make up for all the innocent people they've killed. But there are things more important than either. I think our honor is more important than our budget. (So we can't just abandon our international partners in the International Space Station, sigh.) I also am not willing to relinquish our liberties in order to defeat Islamic fascists. (So we can't just imprison people indefinitely without judicial review in a war where identifying enemy combatants is problematic.)

My father pointed out that a true budget hawk cannot ignore such a large chunk of the budget as defense. Sometimes, when I was younger, it was aggravating when Dad was right and I was wrong. I was younger when Dad pointed this out....

So now, I plan on pointing out things we can do to avoid defense budget bloat every time I make a series of budget suggestions. Here is my first.

1. The F-117 was a horrible waste of money, in terms of bang for the buck. Armored Hummers and more training would be much better. I'm not saying we shouldn't have stealth technology. I am saying we should have figured out how to make it cheaper before we bought it. Here's a rule of thumb: Weapon system's should not be so expensive that you are afraid to use them because they might get blown up.

2. Farming subsidies are bad economics and bad foreign policy. Let's end them.

3. Forget going to the moon on the taxpayer dime. Remove the regulatory and liability burdens on private space businesses. Offer prizes like the X-Prize. Fund real X-Projects like the X-15 (not the more recent NASA boondoggles.)

3. I give money to NPR and Public Television. The government shouldn't. If Sesame Street can't survive on the licensing fees for all the branded stuff we buy for our kids then Elmo should start teaching basic economics to their management instead of pre-reading to our kids. Actually our kids could use some economics, too.

That's a start. Any suggestions?