Likens: Sesame Street hijacks presidential race
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 00:10
I had a dream last week that a crab-like alien hid my girlfriend somewhere and tried to take her place. Then I woke up, read the news and saw a reporter at CNN expressing his concern that Mitt Romney was going to put Big Bird out on the streets. It was then that I became very, very confused.
Not the best headline to wake up to, it took a moment to realize that yes, I was in fact awake, and yes, Mitt Romney did in fact absentmindedly say the most comically evil thing imaginable: “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS… I like PBS, I like Big Bird. I’m not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”
It seems to me that most of the people making an ordeal out of Romney’s statement haven’t really seen the clip itself but are perfectly content in assuming its deviousness. Hands down, it is the most widely discussed portion of the entire debate, marking yet another milestone in the political relevance of Sesame Street.
Of course, the intent of his statement was to merely illustrate what sort of programs he would cut. The provided example was just a bad choice. A horrible, horrible choice.
Regardless of intent, the statement was still laughably ridiculous. Government subsidies to such programs make up less than a percent of a percent of the annual budget, cashing in at $444 million. That’s half the cost of a B-2 bomber and a little over a day’s worth of running the American forces in Afghanistan. With that definition of progress, it would not be ridiculous to assume that Romney trims his lawn with a pair of tweezers.
The United States economy isn’t doing so well. You probably already knew that. The focus must not be on the cracks but the massive holes.
Perhaps trim down the $535 billion budget for the Department of Defense, most of which is spent developing and stockpiling purely offensive weapons. Perhaps cease donating over $3 billion a year to Israel, which alone already has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Perhaps take money from the Department of Homeland Security, a notoriously ineffective, wasteful organization that cost $200 billion in its first five years alone. Perhaps tell the Pentagon that they are going to have to settle for less flashy vending machines, as a budget increase for the 14 year in a row would be somewhat excessive.
The observant readers might have already noticed a pattern here. The United States tends to spend an awful lot on things that go ‘boom’ or people who sit around desks and talk about things that go ‘boom.’
Russia, Germany, Britain and France all populate the list of the most powerful nations on Earth, yet still manage to keep their military spending under $100 billion. China boasts the largest military in the world--twice the size of the United States--and still operates on roughly one-fifth the budget (most of that is invested in duct tape, but the point remains).
This is not necessarily to argue that military spending should be cut- although it seems blatantly obvious it should- but to demonstrate that there are much bigger problems to worry about. And they aren’t hiding from us. Clear as day, our government is filled with wasteful, over-privileged organizations, failing to acknowledge the potential examples of more efficient systems. With no commentary on the economic plans of anyone else--let me say that Romney’s emphasis on such a microscopic change is condescendingly simplistic.
But look on the bright side; if Mitt Romney does become president, the first lady’s traditional appearance on Sesame Street will be a fantastically awkward one, hopefully during which Elmo takes catty stabs at Bain Capital and Botox users.