It’s the same at all levels. When the local government is faced with budget cuts, it threatens to close the library or lay off some firemen. The state closes parks and reduces the operating hours of the DMV. Instead of shrinking the invisible bureaucracy or cutting welfare, they always go straight for the programs that are most visible to middle-class taxpayers—small as they may be as percentages of overall spending. Now the Federal government is threatening that, if we don’t reverse the sequester, cuts to the TSA and FAA will result in longer lines and [further] delayed flights for air travelers.
Traveling by air is the only occasion on which most Americans routinely come face-to-face with Federal government “service providers,” so it is a natural place for our single-minded leaders to try to make us feel the pain. It’s particularly ironic that our leaders would call attention to these aspects of the leviathan—the bloated, unaccountable boondoggle that TSA has become and the FAA’s antiquated, inept air traffic control infrastructure—of which it should be particularly ashamed.
It’s laughable enough to portray $85B in cuts against a budget of some $3.8T as draconian. Let’s hope that the administration’s strategy of cutting customer-facing services as a sleazy lever to pressure Americans to accept higher taxes backfires. We are not holding our breath.
The breathless lead headline
in today’s New York Times
refers to “a Church at a crossroads”: the article cites “a succession battle” and “a struggle between the staunchest conservatives, in Benedict’s mold, who advocated a smaller church of more fervent believers, and those who feel the church can broaden its appeal in small but significant ways. . .”
This is quintessential Times “reporting.” Nowhere does the article substantiate that the selection of a new pope would be an actual “battle” or “struggle,” much less among these supposed factions—namely, those who hold mainstream Catholic beliefs versus the editorial board of the New York Times. In fact, a paragraph late in the article counters the Times‘ own alternate reality: “Nearly all of the 117 cardinals who will vote for the new pope were appointed by Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, both strong traditionalists, and it is likely that the next pope will share their vision and doctrine.”
The Times‘ hyperbolic characterization of legitimate challenges that face the Church as amounting to a “crossroads”—and its focus as much on leftist social causes like ordination of women as on the real issues like sexual abuse, bureaucratic corruption, and declining adherence in Europe—reflects its usual fervor to skewer “conservative” straw men instead of reporting the facts. Apparently, the reporters aren’t keen observers of the church and didn’t talk to any for the story. Just another case of the paper imposing its heavy-handed world view on a news story.