Dog Whistles (and other political babble)

“A nation in debt has no business borrowing money to give to other nations and expecting taxpayers to fund the interest and debt.” – Paul Martin

I saw this quote on Facebook. I wish I could tell you who/what the author is, but Googling the name leads me to a hockey player, a Canadian politician, an actor, a band guitarist, an antiques dealer – and I stopped looking here – a graphics illustrator. 

Sorry, but whichever said the above quote said something that – in my opinion – is nothing more than just a dog whistle that grabs one’s attention and appeals to one’s emotions without reasoning. 

In the first place, politicians (in the US, far-right conservatives, especially, but also some conservative liberals) love to use the terms “federal borrowing” and “national debt” to their constituents to scare the hell out of them, because they know it invokes the thought of repossession or bankruptcy if it isn’t paid off, that such debt imperils our national security and future. 

Before one buys into that, I suggest the need to understand the difference between government borrowing and debt and personal/household borrowing and debt, and maybe a basic course in economics at the local community college will explain the difference. Other than the words “borrowing” and “debt”, they are really nothing alike – the government will not go bankrupt if it borrows and goes into debt. Nor can anyone (or any entity) repossess, take over ownership, of anything under the government’s ownership or authority (as the charlatan scaremongers would tell you, of how our debt to China will allow them ownership of us if they call in our debt; the why they can’t and won’t is too entailed for here: see community college above).

But to the basic contention in the quote, that [the US] shouldn’t be giving money to other nations and expecting taxpayers (you and me) to pay for it in interest and debt. In the national budget there are thousands of fundings, and it only gets out of balance when competing interests in Congress refuse to act intelligently, compromise, and end up approving everything. In the instant question, there would be no debt or deficit caused by foreign giving (or anything else) if, say, defense funding – 1/2 of the 2021 discretionary funds, 15% of the total budget, the biggest expenditure of all – was cut a tad. I mean, with the largest nuclear and conventional, and electronic defense – and offense – power in the world, who in their right (or not)  mind would challenge us, without concern for their own survival?

Defense funding has basically become, they now have a 10 shot clip therefore we need a fifteen shot clip. Enough is sufficient. Perfection (more) is the enemy of good enough (what we have – it is enough to destroy the entire world five times over. Who cares if “they” can six times?). We must not give in to every panic demand by the Pentagon. Because it’s only natural – it is their nature – that they will see the world through the lenses of want, rather than need. As is true of all government agencies. 

I should know; four years military (Navy, Vietnam), two years intelligence (personal, DIA; immediate family, an aggregate of 80+ yrs OSS/CIA), and a forty-two years total federal service (additional two agencies). But I digress.

So, why any foreign giving at all? It’s not unlike the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – it is wiser and cheaper to support and build up the economy and strengthen the government of a friendly or neutral country than to let it sink into corruption and chaos, and possibly create an enemy we will need to deal with militarily in the future, at the loss of lives and greater fortune later.

– Bill

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