When President Bush's budget deal didn't pass--the one that increased taxes by $250 million per congressman--he warned that "we face an immediate shutdown of the federal government." I guess I was supposed to be scared, but all I could think was: promises, promises.
Government, especially in a democratic country, portrays itself as one with the people. In fact, it is a separate entity that lives off the rest of us, and very nicely, too.
To disguise this, especially at tax-increase time, government pours out a stream of disinformation that would have done justice to the Brezhnev regime.
Without Washington looking out for us, we're told, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would stalk the nation. Or would they?
The dreaded sequestration--a 7.5% budget cut (moans of horror from offstage)--was supposed to frighten us. We were told about laid-off meat inspectors and air traffic controllers, of poisoned consumers and airline crashes. We were supposed to think, I guess, that meat-packers are just waiting to unload unhealthy ham. Certainly we were supposed to ignore Switzerland and the other countries that have private air traffic control, and fewer accidents.
No one mentioned the refreshing prospect of firing a few of the drones who fill the D.C. hives go, let alone canning the White House servants, or mothballing the government's limousines so that the bureaucrats would take the bus.
Whenever there's a budget debate, government employees throng the Capitol during working hours (if you will excuse the expression) to lobby Congress. But what if they all had to get jobs?
What if Bush, Darman, Foley and Dole (sounds like a crooked law firm, which--come to think of it--it is) couldn't ever reach an agreement? What if, instead of 7.5%, we had an 100% budget cut?
Exactly how would the average American be affected if entire agencies were abolished? The answer is, we wouldn't. We wouldn't even know if they were wiped from the face of the earth by fire, sword and salt sowed in the soil where they had stood. (As long as I'm day dreaming, I'll have the Visigoths visit D.C.)
Of course, we would actually feel a 100% budget cut in many ways. Our incomes would go up by almost 50%, for example, and April 15 would be just another day.
Prices would fall, as government-imposed inefficiencies were lifted from the economy.
American soldiers would come back to their homes and families from all over the world. We would stop pressuring the Philippines to tolerate our exorbitant bases there. Europeans and Japanese would have to defend themselves (from nonexistant threats). The hereditary dictator of Kuwait would have to get himself, and his 40 wives, back on his throne with his own billions.
Without government inflation, our dollar would increase in value. A real free market would, by the year 2000, make the United States in 1990 look like a poor farm. And this would be our last recession, since we would have no more Federal Reserve manipulation of the credit markets in favor of the big banks and the government itself.
Food prices would collapse. Bums would eat like kings without the Department of Agriculture raising our prices for rich farmers on welfare.
Foreign politicians would have to steal their own money, as foreign aid was cut off. And there would be no more World Bank, International Monetary Fund or Export-Import Bank welfare for big corporations.
Without a Food and Drug Administration, new drugs for cancer, AIDS and other diseases wouldn't take 12 years to come on the market.
Consumers could buy the best goods from all over the world, without government interference and price increases. Japanese cars would cost 25% less.
There would be no savings-and-loan bailout, no bank bailout, no anything bailout.
We would have no more mass mailings from congressmen. Alan Cranston and Pete Wilson would have to buy their own stamps.
Mail service would be cheap, efficient and private. Postal clerks would be glad to see you, and their offices would be open at night and on weekends.
There would be no more intrusive census, and the federal computer dossiers on innocent citizens would be erased.
And finally, Dan Quayle would have to pay for his own trip to Mars.
Well, let's not go too far, even in a dream. Maybe there are some legitimate government services. But I'd like to find out, in the only way possible, by seeing if they would be provided on the market. Americans would have to pay for only what they wanted.
Please, President Bush, give us a chance. Move back to Maine.