Thursday, January 31, 2008

When you say "tomato", I hear "the whole damn garden".

Whenever I hear someone talking about slashing pork out of the federal budget, I nod in wholehearted agreement. This makes them smile and feel happy that I agree with them.

They probably don't realize that "pork" translates in my head to "everything the .gov does that it didn't do before 1929."


Anonymous said...

From your lips to POTUS' ears.

Anonymous said...

Only 1929, Tam? That would include the Federal Reserve and the IRS.

Personally, I would abolish everything since 1900.


Anonymous said...


Similarly, I don't think most people I talk to realize that I don't vote on the federal stuff because I don't see that monolithic pantload of banana worms oozed forth from an infant as legitimate per the Constitution.

And yes, I pay taxes, so in that regard I'm about as toothy as Grandma Moses.

"Personally, I would abolish everything since 1900."

Try from Marbury v. Madison on up.

phlegmfatale said...

damn skippy.

Don M said...


NotClauswitz said...

1889 would be a good place to start, that's when we really started using the Krag.

Earl said...

Why are we worried, the government hasn't stopped drugs, illegal immigration, hasn't won a real war since 1945 and can only herd sheep and lose some to the wolves. I refuse to be a sheep and haven't been bothered by wolves as much as the shepherd... they will do what they want and I will try to do what I want until we clash... then I go get elected.

Anonymous said...

Everything since 1929, Tam?

Um, you do realize that that would eliminate this very gadget upon which you blog, don't you? Prior to about 1985, the Internet was known as ARPAnet. ARPA = "Advanced Research Projects Agency," a Defense Department group in charge of funding all sorts of nifty cutting-edge research. The thing that became the Internet started as ARPA research into how to build a computer network that could survive a nuclear attack.

Oh, and how much of your state relies on TVA projects for its electric and phone service?

The federal fungus has done an awful lot of rotten things in its life. But it's done a few good things, too. Not many, but a few, and some of them are pretty critical -- interstate highways, air traffic control. A scorched-earth rollback might well do more harm than good.

Roberta X said...

Oh, yeah teh intarw3b would never have been invented by those fribblin' ijits in private industry.... ::rolls eyes:: The same private industry (hackers and geeks) who invented every useful app for it. DARPA just wanted to make the missles launch on time.

TVA? Someone else can pluck that low-hanging fruit. A make work project of the socialist Roosevelt II, was it not?

Interstate highways? Toll roads that are run at a profit would be better -- and then maybe the owners would keep 'em in good repair, maybe even have them built properly to begin with. The Feds, not exactly.

Nope, the FedGov's "services" fall into two categories: things private outfits could do better and cheaper, and things that shouldn't be done at all. It's more like a wart than a vital organ.

Anonymous said...

Roberta, you want to leave the development of computers in the hands of experts and business executives like these?

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
- Popular Mechanics, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processings is a fad that won't last out the year."
- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice-Hall, 1957

"But it good for?"
- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of DEC

Before the Internet, the largest privately-held computer network on Earth was CompuServe -- which used 1960s-level data protocols and ran all data through a single gigantic server farm in Columbus, Ohio. The packet-switching TCP/IP technology of ARPAnet was something fundamentally new. I see no reason to believe that it would have been developed by private industry, because private industry wouldn't have had any reason to develop anything like it.

The TVA, socialist or not, did bring electric and phone service to large areas that no private company would have bothered to wire because there was no profit in it.

As for making all the interstates toll roads -- puh-leeze! Review the history of the railroads in the mid-to-late 19th century, then try to tell me that having private businesses control the primary transportation network for the entire country is a good idea. Never forget that the demand for federal regulation of businesses started because railroad companies had turned vast swathes of the US interior into gargantuan company towns, and their inhabitants into virtual slaves. They didn't call those guys robber barons for nothing.

Tam said...

"Roberta, you want to leave the development of computers in the hands of experts and business executives like these?"

What, you mean the people who actually developed them?

If teh n3t had been left in the hands of the .gov, you'd still be typing this in green phosphor on a black background. That is, IF you were a CompSci major at a large university, someone in the DoD, or someone else who had a reason to have a net connection.

RE: "TVA: Just because nobody is paying you to sing doesn't mean you should sing louder." Were there no TVA, I probably wouldn't live in East Tennessee. Does that mean we should institute massive government make-work projects to bring electricity and water to other under-served areas, such as the Gobi desert, so that I can move there?

Anonymous said...


If teh n3t had been left in the hands of the .gov, you'd still be typing this in green phosphor on a black background.

No argument here. But then, this isn't a counter to my original point. What happened with the Internet is a perfect example of how government R&D funding should be handled:

1) The government funded the initial R&D, something no company would ever have done because a) no single company that existed forty years ago had the necessary capital available, not even IBM; and b) at the time there was no discernible profit in it.

2) once the initial foundation was established, the government got out of the way and let the private sector take over.

That's government spending done the way government spending ought to be: basic start-up R&D that the private sector can't or won't do because they don't see a profit in it.

I don't believe for a second that any 1965 tech company, or even a consortium of companies, would have or could have looked forty years down the road and predicted the World Wide Web, the personal computer,, Blogspot, craigslist, YouTube. They wouldn't even have grasped the possibility of those things. Nobody did. Personal computers didn't exist yet, much less the concept of a worldwide network that those computers could access. They wouldn't have spent the millions of dollars necessary to develop the Internet, because they would never have recouped that money. Only an organization that had an inexhaustible supply of money and no profit motive -- like a government -- could have done it.

I believe quite firmly that there's a hell of a lot of government spending we could do without. But a scorched-earth campaign against government spending strikes me as a bad idea, because it condemns an occasional pearl along with all the dross.

Anonymous said...

'Cos private enterprise, which gave us the telegraph, the telephone and the light bulb, would never ever have invented the internet?

Yeah, right.

The 'net's precursor was not a big-deal investment. It was largely paralleled by FidoNet, which offered a viable, private alternative to Usenet, which itself, prior to the World Wide Web, was pretty much the civvy ap other than e-mail. And FidoNet hauled the mail, too. We'd'a had teh n3t.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

No other objections, but we might want to keep the Department of the Air Force

Anonymous said...

Arpanet was a military-related research project. That's well within the original understanding of the Constitution - not just pre-1929, but even pre-1789.