fidesquaerens (marta_bee) wrote,

funding battles

Lately, I have noticed a lot of politicians fighting what I can only call a proxy war using funding. Don't approve of some goal or program? Then simply defund it. I've noticed more of this happening from the Right (maybe because of the current political situation, maybe because of my own bias. Gov. Walker's assault on public unions is a great example of this because of how the unions agreed to make financial concessions. In the news this was framed as an attempt to give the government the power it needed to balance the budget - but really, it boiled down to a power struggle.

To be fair, though, liberals have been doing a lot of this as well. Recent case in point: the L.A. Times op-ed where a former judge with a reputation for imposing the death sentence has advocated abolishing the death sentence in his state. His reason? Money. Also, I've heard lots of liberal whining about how "there's always tax money to spend on yet another war," referring to Libya.

Let me be perfectly clear. Not only am I pretty much a pacifist (I'm willing to allow the theoretical possibility that war might be necessary, but in practice we almost never reach that threshold), and not only am I against the death penalty for pretty much the same reason, but these are actually pretty important issues to me. They rank right near the top of my list that I use when deciding who to vote for. (Yes, I do on occasion vote for Republicans!) But even so, the complaints about Libya and Judge McCartin's recent editorial really bothered me. I get irritated no matter who the politician is, and if I speak out about it more with conservatives, that's only because I have a lower tolerance there to begin with.

So for the record: war in nearly all cases is wrong. Money issues are really beside the point. Yes, it seems rich when you say that we can't afford Head Start or health care but can suddenly afford more missiles or whatever. But that's not the main point. It's that my president decided it was a good thing to start yet another military action without public debate or any kind of oversight or balance of powers. I really, really long for the day when a politician won't play the tricks about funding. They'll just stand up and say that this policy or program is working against the public interest and we need to change it - not because we can't afford it, but because it's bad policy.

Of course there's a room for those funding debates. Given certain agreed-upon priorities, we may disagree on how far we can go in pursuing them. Or what the most efficient way to go after them is. I get that. But that's a totally different question and should be treated as such. Trying to defund, not because it's a bad use of money but because it's a bad policy, is a cheap and manipulative play. Not to mention it complicates things and keeps us from actually getting around to talking about how to save money. (If funding battles are just proxy for policy battles, then who can ever treat funding battles as funding battles?)

I know, I know... between Libya and Japan and God knows what else is coming down the pipe, it's silly to get so upset over this. But it still really, really irks me.
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