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March 23, 2011

History’s Balancing Act

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I really can’t understand why the United States needs a balanced budget. It has happened so rarely in our history.


According to Budget Explorer (a website I selected at random… really!) there have been only a few times in the history of our Republic where the budget was balanced and we had a surplus. These include 1835 with Andrew Jackson, 1920-1929 with Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge and then with Bill Clinton.


I perfectly well understand why we at home need to have equal income and expenditure. People get awfully mad when we don’t pay our bills. They do nasty things, like turn off the electricity, cut off cable television and, God forbid, the Internet fades. People will starve, sell children and become street walkers before they allow them to cancel the net.


Now a loud vocal miseducated (my word) few who have acquired their own television cable channel – Fox News – who have again gained sway over some of the American people.


Led by a scary demented politician, whose brain has frozen, then barely thawed where the ice crystals still remain and then frozen again because of too much moose hunting in the Alaskan wilderness during the depths of winter, this group has somehow turned the noble cause of a patriotic group of Boston rabble rousers into their national symbol.


Tea has different meaning for me. As most Jeddah hands will know, it means liquor, a well known code while living in this alcohol forbidden society.


I went to Vegas a few years back to a writing conference but I really went to find, let see to put this nicely, a female companion for the night. I cruised the casinos trying to pick up women. From what I had read in “those” magazines, it would easy.


What I discovered was a bunch of drunk and mean women and men (if you are so inclined). They were drunk because the casinos were pushing free drinks and mean because they had all lost their money gambling.


Nobody, but nobody, wants to go to bed with a mean drunk anything and those women and men are the same as the Tea Party people. A bunch of mean, incomprehensible drunks.


I have not read anywhere in the Bible or the Constitution that we are required to balance the budget. In the long glorious history of our great nation it has only been balanced three times and each led to disaster. Andy Jackson touched off the panic of 1837; Herbert Hoover led us into the Great Depression while the dot com bubble burst while Bill Clinton was in office. Given this track record, it seems better we stay in debt.


However, representative and senators point to the Constitution when they attempt to balance the budget. We cannot slash defense because this country was founded on the principle of “to provide for the common defense” (Preamble). But, they forget the second part which states “(,)promote the general welfare.” I guess they don’t like that comma.


But, it’s been that “provide for the common defense” part that has unbalanced the budget. Our failed venture into Iraq and our Afghanistan soirée has cost billions of dollars. We hand millions to every man, woman, child and goat in Afghanistan to support a cruel version of Islam that only they follow (except the goat). It also seems ironic they we export the “general welfare” part of the Constitution to pacify the people. The only thing they want to do is grow poppies for export to the United States for our failed “support the general welfare” program which has resulted in a huge drug addicted market.


The conservatives and Tea Party people should admire these industrious hard working people, farming and processing heroin for the huge product demand in the states. And we want them to grow food crops!


Given the failure rate of the American military from Vietnam onward, the defense department seems to be the logical place to cut the budget. Everyone knows the sorry state of the education system, roads, bridges, drug addictions, environment and just about every other social problem, it seems the “promote the general welfare” part should be increased, or at least left alone.


As for balancing the budget, history has shown what great calamites result when we get the pluses and minuses to equal zero. This time the planets may leave orbit; and earth could be hurled toward the sun. At least that’s what the Tea Party and Conservatives have been telling us if we don’t.


For other articles see Tom’s blog at All are welcome on his Facebook Page at Borneo Tom


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