February 03, 2004

Why Do Liberals Howl Over Small Budget Cuts

David Bernstein notes that the NY Times and Washington Post are making a very big deal over the elimination of 65 programs and the trimming of 63 others to produce a 0.2% cut in the federal budget over the baseline (which already has a natural positive slope built into it).

I think what he fails to see is that liberals view little government programs as acorns from which mighty oaks can grow. Instituting a program is always the hard part. After that, human nature in the bureaucracy leads to continual efforts to enlarge each of these acorns in order to further the careers of the bureaucrats running the programs. Individually, it's all small beer but sow enough acorns and you end up with a socialist (or social democratic if you swing that way) forest filled with significantly sized programs that are difficult to uproot. Taking out small programs is like taking out the seedlings. It is only insignificant if you are shortsighted and imagine the effects only in the next few years.

For the suburban minded, skip the oak metaphor, and imagine the programs as young crabgrass plants. The growth patterns might be a bit more appropriate.

Posted by TMLutas at February 3, 2004 12:01 PM