By Karen Kwiatkowski
The federal government is now faced with a small reduction in its rate of growth over the next 10 years. The "sequester" is nothing more than $880 billion in "on paper" reductions from projected spending in the next decade. As Forbes Magazine recently pointed out, the sequester deal put forth by Obama and accepted by the Republican majority in the House is actually a $110 billion spending increase!
Silly us. We complain that the Republicans don't work with the Democrats, and the president never compromises. Pay no attention to the whines and moans coming from congressmen, senators, presidents and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. These fat cats are smiling, chubby and Cheshire-style.
I had breakfast yesterday with several retired military people, like myself. Between the three of us, we came up with a handful of spending cuts the military could take right now that would save hundreds of millions of dollars, and we never even got to the antiquated weapons system lines, the unnecessary overseas bases, or the troubled and "too big to fail" F-35 fighter aircraft. By the way, the F-35 multi-role fighter aircraft is seven years behind schedule, 70 percent over budget, and is already the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history.
But what are we hearing from Washington? Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, coming fresh from the bloated CIA where he expanded the mission there, said that the sequester will make us "less safe," "badly damage our national defense" and "undermine the people in the military."
I spent 20 years in the military, working communications, acquisition and military political affairs. I can unequivocally say that Panetta is either a bald-faced liar or an idiot. Take your choice.
Let me explain my assumptions here. First, I am assuming that Panetta actually cares about this country's defense, and he actually cares about the people in the military - and will determine what programs to grow less fast wisely. I'm also assuming that Panetta knows something about managing large organizations, and he knows which unproductive and antiquated programs deserve a slower rate of growth in the next decade.
Not that there is any real cutting going on. Government grows, and the Pentagon grows, largely unimpeded. Money the government spends is money that has been extracted by force from the private sector or borrowed without our permission from foreign speculators and from our unsuspecting children and grandchildren.
Government spending is always at the expense of something else. Government-created and administered jobs are 30 to 40 percent more expensive than private sector jobs - higher pay and benefits, and a higher overhead and carry cost.
So what is sequester hysteria really about? Well, it's a lot like pregnancy hysteria. No real pregnancy exists. But an overpowering hope for pregnancy in some cases results in actual symptoms.
While counseling and treatment is available for the victims of hysterical pregnancy, we have no such options to deal with victims of hysterical sequesterism.
Instead, we need to stand firm as our congressmen and our senators cry and moan about the "senseless cuts." We need to hold our ground when professional bureaucrats explain to the rubes in the provinces how they cannot manage their business unless we guarantee them predictable and generous budget increases every year.
We need to look these creatures in the eye and be brave as they threaten us with the dire straits of a government that grows less rapidly then they expected.
Finally, we need to introduce a new sequester program every month until we have government that is grateful for the money we allow them to spend and borrow each year, careful and courteous in its expenditures, and mindful of its constitutional role as servant to the people, not master of the serfs.
Karen Kwiatkowski is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, a farmer, a part time professor, and a liberty-minded conservative. She writes from the southwestern edge of Shenandoah County. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org