One would have hoped that after a couple of weeks the overblown brouhaha over the consequences of the sequestration cuts would have died down, but alas, there are those still insistent that the meager $85 billion in cuts will somehow result in a cataclysmic shock to the American economy.
Hysterical bloggers, columnists and commentators continue to assert that these cuts will devastate everything from national defense, to air travel, to education, to health care, to the environment itself.
With all this fuss, it’s easy to lose perspective on how small these cuts really are from a historical perspective. For example, the federal budget outlays for fiscal year 2011 were a full $200 billion dollars less than those projected for 2013. If the loss of $85 billion is such an economic and ecologic disaster, one shudders to think of the barbarous dark age that those poor people in 2011 must have experienced.
The point, of course, is that all this overwrought hand-wringing is utter nonsense. 2011 was not a year of military defenselessness, nor of especial illiteracy, nor of ecological collapse. Planes did not cease to fly and cancer patients were not suddenly stripped of their health care. In short, nothing alarming happened at all as a result of the inadequacy of $3.6 trillion in federal spending.
The extent of the inconvenience to taxpayers of these cuts is determined solely by deliberate allocation of them to the most visible and popular services, such as the much lamented cancellation of White House tours, as well as the decision to release hundreds of prisoners into the general population, a political stunt that is as irresponsible as it is tasteless.
The implicit claim being made is that America is no longer able to stand on its own two legs without constantly increasing levels of federal spending, that the country has become so fragile and dependent on government that even the smallest cuts send it spiraling into chaos and desolation. As depressing as this claim is, we can take solace in the fact that it is far from credible. This is still a great country, filled with millions of independent, intelligent citizens fully capable of mastering their own destinies. The idea that the country cannot survive a return to spending levels of less than two years ago is at once insulting to the citizenry and a sad commentary on the mentality of dependency which those in power have so feverishly tried to thrust upon us.