But today, I'm going to talk about something that has been on my mind lately. And to do that I think that maybe I should share a little bit about where I am coming from. I am: 30 years old; Raised in a conservative (in every way) household; Politically independent, oft times finding myself disgusted with both political parties but more often the Republicans; And an unemployed/underemployed attorney. I think that America is great despite its faults (and yes, we have a few). I get most of my news from NPR and the New York Times. I can't stand most tv news shows but have a soft spot for Rachel Maddow -even though I don't always agree with her but I appreciate her thoroughness and snarky, cool headed tone.
I am also highly influenced by David Brooks. I have been reading his column in the NY Times for a couple of years now and find myself generally agreeing with this self described Republican. Brooks is the kind of Republican that I can get behind - knowledgeable, smart and moderate. And so I found his column last week to be most interesting because it spoke to something that has been on my mind a lot lately: Government spending. Brooks explains that most of our spending goes to entitlements. And for political reasons, congress can't or won't, for better or worse, make cuts to entitlements. And so congress is looking to make cuts in "discretionary spending" - which I agree with in principle but gets a little stickier in application.
"...[A] vast majority of the budget is off limits to politicians who are trying to control debt. All cuts must, therefore, be made in the tiny sliver of the budget where the most valuable programs reside and where the most important investments in our future are made." David Brooks, "The Freedom Alliance", NY Times (February, 10, 2011)The danger in cutting discretionary spending, as Brooks explains, is that discretionary funding goes to very programs that make America great. Programs like NASA, PBS, and foreign aide. As an American I take real pride in these programs and would be very sad to see them go. It is our technology, education and good will that makes America great. And I believe that those who work within these programs are doing important work that shouldn't be thrown out like a baby with the bath water.
And speaking of jobs, lest we forget the elephant in the room, cuts in discretionary spending means that people are going to loose their jobs. Because, think about it, where does all that discretionary funding go? Most of it goes to people's salaries. And we all know that the private sector is still growing at a snail's pace, so, we're talking about more unemployment and fewer jobs for job seekers, like me and so many others.
I recognize that our nation is in a very sticky situation and that we may all be called upon to sacrifice to get through the mess that we've gotten ourselves into. I only hope that we can do so without undermining the very strengths that make our nation great.
Yesterday, I signed a petition asking Congress to not cut funding to NPR and PBS - not because, I couldn't live without Masterpiece Theater but because, I believe that these programs are a national treasure that serve a vital role in our nation, to inform and educate the American public. Click on the tote bag to sign the petition.