Friedman on the fence

The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman likes to position himself as a centrist. He’s pro-war, pro-environment, pro-business, and I guess against deficit spending. I usually agree with about 60 percent of what he writes. The problem is that he works too hard to sit precariously on the fence. In today’s column he says that deficit spending is bad and that liberals will have to sacrifice some of their social programs to balance the budget, but as usual Friedman overlooks the glaring $500 billion defense budget.

Certainly some spending on the defense of the country is necessary, but it shouldn’t be the largest line-item of the budget. If you add the Global War on Terror to defense spending, we’re looking at close to $700 million a year. And these are based on the 2008 budget that didn’t include the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

So why do liberals need to sacrifice health care, Social Security, welfare, education and whatever Friedman feels they should give up, while the Dept. of Defense continues to pillage the treasury?

Do we need to have all of those Cold War weapons systems and bases? I thought everything changed after 9/11. I think not.

Also, couldn’t the nation sacrifice subsidies to oil companies, drug companies, insurance companies and stop paying farmers to not grow food? Would it be completely beyond-the-pale to expect the wealthiest of the wealthy to pay their fair share?

Friedman does mention a tax increase in his column, but I’m certain he’s not talking about restoring the progressive taxation system that we once had in the US. A percentage here and a percentage point there and the rest will be placed on the backs of the poorest of the poor by gutting the social safety net.

In true Friedman fashion he misses the mark and remains perched on the fence careful to not anger the right and tossing a few grains of sand in the eye of the left while leaving the rest of us hoping that no one in power is actually paying attention to what he says.

Read Friedman’s column.
Wiki about 2008 US budget.

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