The “skinny budget” proposal for Federal Discretionary spending offers something not often seen in rational societies. It offers a delicious meal of seed corn to take the place of the nutrition programs it is cutting. The seed corn is in the form of the cuts to science programs across the board. We are culling the funding for: medical research; space programs monitoring the condition of the earth; any programs aimed at mitigating climate change or mitigating the conditions resulting from climate change; energy efficiency research; and statistical analysis capabilities in many agencies. But we should not worry, because we will have the bigliest military capabilities of all time!
My wife has made the point that one of the proper roles of government is to serve as the first investor. This is true for infrastructure, but it is even more true when it comes to scientific research. There is a reason why the standard of living has improved over the decades since WWII in the US. That reason is because the Federal Government has continually invested in research in the fields of science. Those investments, when released into the economy, have paid dividends far beyond the original investment. True, not all investigation results in technology that has market implications. Some research is so esoteric, it may never have implication outside of the limited group of researchers within a particular academic field. And some research lends itself to ridicule.
My guess is that all research programs proposed for elimination failed to pass the ideological tests applied by Trump’s handlers. That nixed anything having to do with climate change. Nope, don’t believe in it, and all those snowflakes who suck at the federal funding teat are going to have to find useful work to do. Why should we work at planning mitigation for sea rise? Just because a significant part of Mar-A-Lago would be submerged with a 3′ rise in sea level doesn’t mean that we should figure out how best to handle increased tidal flooding and storm surge flooding that will wreak havoc on barrier islands across our land.
I am quite certain though that his true believers are reveling in this release of the budget. To those believers, they relish sticking it to the elitists who dare to think that they know more about a subject just because they have studied it for 10 or 20 or 40 years. Why should we believe those who tell us that our beloved coal is bad for us, because it results in emissions of mercury and fine particulate matter that increases death rates? Why should we support those who perform research into mosquito borne diseases? Why should we support any research into energy efficiency? All we have to do is unleash market forces and drill, baby, drill, and voila, no more need to be efficient with energy. We’ll get so tired of winning at energy that, well, I have no words that can describe how I feel. Just writing this paragraph has caused my tongue to stick into my cheek so hard that I’m in imminent danger of suffering a cheek hernia.
I have said to friends that Donald Trump has fulfilled all of my expectations about his reign of error. I expected gross incompetence, and I expected that he would be manipulated by the hordes of ideologues who latched onto his coattails as he emerged victorious. But even with my faith in his feckless nature, I have been astonished as the world view of the Trump administration becomes ever more apparent. The empty vessel of Donald Trump has been stuffed full of dark visions of a world where we must guard against even the most improbable occurrence, because there are those out there who hate us. Given the propensities of the Trump administration priorities to veer abruptly away from diplomacy and towards bellicosity, this will likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Donald Trump is the ultimate Potemkin President. He is a shell of a man with no ideological bent other than being convinced of his supreme superiority. He backs up that superiority with a world-class inferiority complex, such that he cannot dare to be told that he is ever in error, or that he ever can fail to be the best at everything. His entourage, having guided this flawed human to the pinnacle of power, are trying everything they can to mollify him, keeping his ego stroked, so that they can accomplish the evil deeds that they are trying to foist onto the unsuspecting population who still rise in waves of adulation for this poor excuse for a leader.
We have emerged into a bimodal civilization in the US now. On issue after issue, Republicans show 90% agreement on an item, while Democrats show 90% disapproval of the same issue. Statistically this shows up like this:
When opinions are polarized as much as they are now, it is difficult to search for common ground. I am almost convinced that it will be necessary for the extremists in Trump’s camp to go so far that they finally cause revulsion in their most ardent supporters. I can only hope that the revulsion does not come at the expense of the lives of millions of people through the unleashing of the dogs of war.