For ancient Egyptian culture, how one was treated after death was sometimes more important than in life. Hieroglyphics, written in tombs and scrawled across public works, named the dead, along with instruction on how those dead might find their way around in the next life. As long as they were remembered, they lived. Their souls were free to wander their lands. As long as their names were written in those instructions to the dead, they could live the afterlife in peace. But there was a convention within ancient Egyptian culture to scratch out the names of those who offended leaders. It might be because of some direct action that the dead person had taken that offended the current royalty. It might be the actions of a descendant who had tweaked the nose of the ruler one too many times. To scratch out the name was to essentially blind that soul, to weaken, and eventually, by wiping that person out of the hearts and the minds of the people, condemn them to final death. To never have their souls walk the land of the Nile again.
This past week the Trump administration released its first budget. The administration described it as a “hard budget”. Defense was the focus, all other areas were tertiary at best. Within the skeleton of the budget were cuts that would eliminate entire agencies. The budget would cut funding to extreme levels for other agencies and programs, to the point that some activities that we currently take for granted would be gone. Meals on Wheels for seniors and shut ins. After school programs for children. Nutrition programs for children. The National Endowments of the Arts and of the Humanities. Cuts to federal science programs. Elimination of funding for energy and energy conservation programs. Elimination of funding programs for college students. And the list goes on and on and on.
As the administration promised, the big winners, if one could call it that, were defense, both in form of the Military, and in Homeland Security. The Military walks away with around 52 billion dollars in additional funding, to build up what is perceived as a weak and failing military. Veterans Affairs, riddled with problems of access, care, and operation for nearly as many years as we have made veterans, sees an increase of over 4 billion dollars. Homeland Security sees an increase of nearly 3 billion dollars, with a major share going to building a wall and to increasing in the removal of illegal immigrants from our country. All in all, around 59 billion dollars ($59,000,000,000) increased among those three areas. (Statistics from “What Trump Cut in his Budget”, by Kim Soffen and Denise Lu, Washington Post Online, March 16, 2017).
This increase was done on the backs of those whose budgets are slashed. We have a military that consumes, both in mandatory and discretionary spending, a large chunk of our tax dollar. To add any degree funding to Pentagon budgets means either significant cuts elsewhere, or increases to taxes. It becomes a pretty easy guess as to where the money will come from.
I’m not going to argue the fact that the United States currently spends more than the next dozen or so nations combined. I won’t be pleading about the necessity of being able to talk with both friends and enemies so that we don’t need to draw weapons against them. I’m not going to be taking time in this post to talk about the social cancer created from governmentally sanctioned institutional ignorance and wanton budget attacks against our citizens. But I will remind all that this budget is little more than an opening shot by a little man with a chisel who is trying to scratch away the name and the deeds of his predecessor and all of those loyal to him. Trying, one hieroglyphic bird, snake, foot, and feather at a time to eliminate the successes of the last administration, regardless of the harm being caused to the Nation.
In the end we need to reach out to one of the greater philosophers of our time and remember that “This aggression will not stand, man”. Even as we drift toward the Spring of 2017, 468 House and Senate seats will be up for reelection and those men and women are already trying to find the path of least resistance that leads to victory in 2018. The current Trump budget doesn’t do that. The cuts may be red meat to the biggest Trump supporters of our nation, and may beat in the heart of our country’s most ardent conservatives, but it’s not the easiest of ways to stay in power. Those of us in the northland know the feeling in the pits of our collective stomachs when a storm hits, we read or hear the announcement “Meals on Wheels will not be delivered today” and we imagine a fellow citizen who may well not eat that day because of the fate of the weather. Multiply that by millions, change that faceless storm into the face of a lawmaker trying to gain our vote, and it’s a pretty safe bet that this budget will not stand.
We just need to remind these 468 that we too have chisels and are ready to use them.