16 / September
16 / September
Armies of Compassion

I support the "armies of compassion." I just don't support instituting a draft for the armies of compassion. My attitude toward President Bush's "armies of compassion" is a lot like to my attitude toward President Bush's regular army: voluntary sacrifice is laudable, but forced sacrifice is condemnable. In fact, more of the latter leads to less of the former. When so much is being taken, who wants to give? And "give" we will. Some estimates place President Bush's Hurricane Katrina recovery package at $200 billion. That's more than $2,000 conscripted for the "armies of compassion" from every tax return that owes the IRS. The taxpayers will sacrifice. The tax spenders will not. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid holds, "I'm not into finding where we can cut yet." "My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay claims. "But nobody has been able to come up with any yet." Nobody? Many of the taxpayers forced to pay more will be hard pressed to come up with the money. But those taxpayers will find ways to cut their budget to fund theirs. For there are no conscientious objectors to the federal government's armies of compassion.

posted at 12:52 AM

"Armies of compassion" is the biggest oxymoron I've ever heard!

The author Robert A.Heinlein believed that any nation that employed conscription for armies was doomed. I suppose the same theory is true for "armies of compassion."

Posted by: Paul on September 16, 2005 07:15 AM

It is a given that most readers of The Flynn files are against spending 200 billion to rebuild NO. But taking the fact that it is going to happen as a given, Where shall we cut the budget to fund this expenditure?
Did anyone say repeal the tax cuts? or cutback on Iraq? How about closing Corporate foreign tax loopholes that allow US corporations to offshore their profits? We could go further into debt and let our grandchildren worry about it. Or we could raise taxes across the board as in “let the middle class pay”.
Anybody got any ideas?

Posted by: Rc on September 16, 2005 08:45 AM

Apparently not YOU.

Iraq not withstanding*, your ideas amount to either hurting the American taxpayer even more by replealing tax cuts, taxing us more (I'm guessing this is in ADDITION to repealing the tax cuts), or punitive legislation to make US companies less profitable and ensure that they will move ALL their major operations offshore, or even incorporate in some other location.

*My own opinion has always been that the double-whammy positioning of Afghanistan and Iraq can put pressure on the Syrians, Iranians, Saudis, and the Chinese as well. Unfortunately we are nation building, instead of just establishing a strong military presence on the borders of these countries. Are we fighting a war on terrorism and terrorist supporting countries or not? We should be showing them we mean business, rather than trying to win "hearts and minds". You can't "wage peace". Peace is what happens when you win (or lose) a war.

Posted by: Homer J. Fong on September 16, 2005 09:39 AM

Problem is, if you conscientiously object, you go to jail.

Bigger issue is that it is not their money, they are only the caretakers. But, it doesn't stop them from using other people's money to appear compassionate and thus be in better light to keep their cushy jobs.

Posted by: asdf on September 16, 2005 10:33 AM

I was trying to remember who said, "government is not the answer, it is the problem." As I listened to the Pres last night, I thought I heard LBJ. Anyone else hear that echo?

Posted by: Guido on September 16, 2005 11:16 AM

RC: You just don't understand conservatives, so when you try to ridicule them you miss your mark (you hit some braindead model Republican, I suppose). There is so much crap that the feds have their hands in that they shouldn't that there is absolutely no way a conservative would have to turn to raising taxes to raise more money.

Posted by: scully on September 16, 2005 11:31 AM

It doesn't appear that the majority of these turkeys are acting responsibly.

In his speech, Bush was tripping all over himself to sound caring and sincere and more than willing to make up for the perception that he doesn't care by writing a huge check using other people's money to rebuild the cesspool of the South.

He sounded like a vinyl siding salesman when he kept repeating that toll free relief information number.


Posted by: asdf on September 16, 2005 11:38 AM


Reagan got famous for using that quote but I think it predated him. The LBJ reference is of course accurate. LBJ's "War on Poverty" today demands Bush's "Armies of Compassion" I presume. And maybe even "Shocktroops of empathy," and a "Wehrmacht of Relief."

Rc, the answer is to not spend money unconstitutionally. Suggesting that we actually have a free choice here among trade-offs "War on Iraq" "rebuild N.O." is a false dichotomy. Those sorts of calculations aren't the only options available to politicians. In fact, if they took their oaths seriously, or if voters took the rule of law seriously, then those options would not even be discussed by Congress b/c neither would be allowed. To throw you a bone though, you are correct that Bush's policy of "tax cuts" and "butter" and "guns" is really insane. It worked better in the 80's for Reagan b/c of the economic situation and b/c he had an opposition Congress. But now it is just a total lack of statescraft. Where I think I disagree with your more liberal stance is that I want less/no butter, less/no guns, and less/no taxes. So the conservative opinions I have seen on this site have kept their consistency.

Posted by: Brian on September 16, 2005 11:39 AM

Guys, no offense to the citizens of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, but I for one am willing to go on record with the following statements in which I am making certain stated assumptions. If my assumptions are wrong, please feel free to correct me.

First, were all these homes, buildings and structures not insured to require the Fed to have to foot the bill for reconstruction? If not, why not? Plus, why would any bank in their right mind finance buildings in an area on the Gulf Coast that were uninsurabel?

Second, if they were insured, why is the taxpayer rather than the insurance companies paying? Why is the Fed covering the losses of banks and insurance companies?

Third, if the home owners and landlords couldn't get hurricane/flood insurance, why would we want to spend more money to rebuild in an area certain to be hit again? Shouldn't the home/building owners have to at LEAST sign a form stating they won't be allowed federal disaster relief a second time?

This situation reminds me on a rather crass and harsh comedy routine Sam Kinison did some years back on the famine in Somalia. He said that the Somalians didn't food, they needed suitcases so they could move to where the food was. And that while we have deserts in America, we just don't live in them (Las Vegas notwithstanding). I guess that while I understand the political expediency of every politician rushing to appear the most compassionate with other peoples' money, it is somewhat ironic that given the constant threat from hurricanes, we may have to go through this entire process again.

Posted by: Thom McKee on September 16, 2005 11:49 AM

I've always hated this compassionate conservative crap. Is there a hole in this world that George Bush wont throw our money into? His term isn't ending soon enough for me.

Posted by: obi juan on September 16, 2005 12:30 PM

Scully hits it right on the head. The Government is involved in way more than it was ever intended to be involved in. The President's unlrealistic commitments stem from the natural progression of the Government constantly taking on more than it can handle. It should not be in the business, let's say, of educating your child, providing you a doctor, buying you a house, or dictating whether you can smoke dope. The business of Government is national defense (and all that goes along with that, to a reasonable point), enforcement, and regulation/encouragement of commerce. As long as the Government continues to take the weight of the country on its shoulders, it is only a matter of time before it collapses under that weight.

Posted by: Homer J. Fong on September 16, 2005 12:43 PM

There's over $190 Billion in pork in this last budget. Yet no one can find cuts. Typical of these morons.

Posted by: Wm. Clement on September 16, 2005 01:02 PM

When armies march in battle, we have to think about the costs. This means considering that soldiers will pay the ultimate price. Opponents to war often point out that the most hawkish amongst us don’t sacrifice their own lives for the cause they so vehemently support. It’s easier to cheer when you’re rooting for someone else to take one for the team. The same holds true for the oxymoronic “armies of compassion.” Costs don’t mean much when you use other people’s money to pay for stuff.

Posted by: Herman Leadready on September 16, 2005 01:51 PM

This is not a novel concept:

"We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money."
--Davy Crockett

Posted by: Curtis Stone on September 16, 2005 10:35 PM

I think I talked about this in an earlier thread.

Getting New Orleans back on track is vital to the national interest of the US. A huge amount of our oil imports come through that city.

Posted by: Ben-T on September 17, 2005 03:54 PM

Ben T: I'm confused about your point. Oil. Is that your defense of 200+ billion federal tax payer dollars, continued concentration of federal responsibility/power, use of the federal coffers as an insurance-backup fund, and possibly a scrapping of the ban against using the military as a domestic police force? Because it's port is used to import oil?

Posted by: scully on September 17, 2005 04:43 PM

I was not being absolutist about my point, scully, there is no need to take it as such.

I was simply stating that the importance of New Orleans as an economic strongpoint of the United States warrants a government response to such a situation.

Wasn't the ban on the military enforcing civilian law scrapped in the 80s as part of the War on Drugs?

Posted by: Ben-T on September 18, 2005 05:00 AM

I would think it would be the opposite, Ben. To the extent something is a US "economic strongpoint" there is ability and incentive for private rebuilding. If the oil companies raise the price at the pump in order to rebuild their hardware down there, fine--that is better than raising the price not at the pump but through taxes and deficit spending. The reason for public rebuilding would make more sense to the extent that there isn't private ability and incentive.

Posted by: scully on September 18, 2005 11:38 AM

The Free Market can handle many things without missing a step. I tend to doubt the complete decimation of a major city is one of them.

But moving beyond that point anyways, I would simply argue that the American government has a duty to respond to such a massive disaster on it's soil. If there is no need for a government response to a disaster such as Katrina, then there is no need for a government response to a military attack against the US.

Posted by: Ben-T on September 18, 2005 01:11 PM

There are two ways to answer assertions in your last post:

1. The government has a duty to protect and defend the Constitution. That duty excludes taking on responsibilities not outlined within said constitution. Ergo, federal government has a responsibility not to tax for the purposes of rebuilding NO, unless I misread the Constitution.

2. Should Venezuela attack NO, the federal government must respond to fullfil its "provide for the common defense" obligation. If Venezuela attacks NO and we do not respond, sooner or later they will get around to the rest of us. I am not concerned that Katrina will attack NY or St. Louis, or San Francisco, et cetera.

Posted by: Webster on September 18, 2005 01:28 PM
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