David Broussard (dbroussa) wrote,
David Broussard

The Social-Government Complex that Eisenhower Warned Us About

This morning I was listening to the radio and the program played the famous last speech by President Eisenhower, traditionally known as the "Beware of the Military-Industrial Complex" speech.  It is often used to warn people of the potential evil of the armaments industry that, post WWII, became a permanent fixture in our country.  President Eisenhower was correct to warn us about this potential threat.
Overlooked in his speech, however, is another warning...

"Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs – balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages – balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration."

Think about how we try and solve almost every problem today...and the frustration that it brings to us all?  Every solution must be a grand slam that is spectacular and costly that will miraculously solve our current difficulties.  And rarely are they balanced...instead we are told that we must act NOW to solve this problem...and every solution is to spend more money, to further unbalance the public and private economy, to provide the desirable as opposed to the necessary, to subjugate the individual in favbor of the national, to ignore the cost in the future for the reelection today.

This may be the root cause of our frustration because we have become conditioned to the provender of the national milch cow, promised always that someone else will pay for the costs at some point down the road.  Promised that only through increased gov't action can any solution ever be found.  And with each unfulfilled promise, more of our individuality is subsumed into the superimcumbent nation-state.  We have, in short, given up our essential liberties in return for temporary prosperity deserve neither liberty nor prosperity.

Eisenhower warned us of the Military-Insutrial complex and the danger of a large organization that, given an ever increasing supply of public money, could corrupt the United States and dictate public policy to ever grater levels until they controlled the policy of the United States.  I suspect that if he could see the Social-Government complex that rules us now he would be quite perturbed that we blithefully ignored his warnings.  We now have a government that spends more money on social programs than the entirety of the rest of the budget (in FY2013 Social Security, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture accounted for just over $1.9T of US gov't expenditures or 52%. This works out to spending 11% of our GDP for FY2013 on social programs.  When the Congress recently cut the SNAP program by 1% (a reduction of $8B over 10 years) caused wailing and gnashing of teeth that hasn't been seen...well since the last time that there was a reduction in the increase of spending.  When sequestration was put into place, the President's administration told us that it would create terrible hardship...cutting a massive $85B out of a budget that spent $3,800B or 2.2% of the budget (and since the budget was $74B more in 2013 that in 2012...so did we really "cut" the budget, or reduce its increase).

But as opposed to getting lost in the numbers...because that way lies madness...look instead at the political impossibility of actually cutting spending.  Sequestration cut across the board and was roundly criticised...and yet...it has been the only way to actually slow down the increase in spending.  Try and cut SNAP and be told that you want poor people to starve.  Try and reform or reduce SS or Medicare and you are throwing seniors off of a cliff.  Reform military pensions and watch the fur fly.  Unfortunately cutting anything is impossible...because we have allowed the Social-Government complex to take control of our nation's priorities and politics.
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