Come on, you guys – it’s pretty easy to afford a number of federal programs on the chopping block

The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been interesting, if nothing else. Largely unburdened of Congressional oversight, the president has signed into action 12 executive orders as of Monday morning. Several more to come will likely take aim at defunding or altogether excising government programs deemed expendable by Mr. Trump and his advisers.

There is nothing wrong with exploring the options of managing the country’s expenses more efficiently, and the president is well within his means to trim some fat from the budgetary cow. It is, however, unfortunate that he’s choosing to dispose of the tenderloin.

Just as I began reading further into the programs that the new administration will likely target, I received a push notification from Youtube. One of my favorite channels was one step ahead of me.

It’s actually kind of astounding to put into visual perspective just how insignificant these costs are when compared to the sheer monolith that is the federal budget. The National Endowment for the Arts requires each American taxpayer to part with 46 cents each year. Many similar programs go a long way on tight budgets, providing invaluable services that keep us safe and enhance or, in some cases, make entirely possible the education of millions of Americans.

Mr. Trump wishing to cut back on government spending would be fine, were it not for the unfortunate, glaring prospect of unnecessary spending in multiple instances. If he truly wished to regain a more firm grip on the nation’s finances, he wouldn’t be targeting inexpensive and beneficial programs – a move which isn’t only impractical; it’s practically vindictive.

If average Americans have a firm enough grasp of these concepts, I find it within reason to ask that the government and those who lead it do, as well. Yet it appears that this administration has no such grasp or – and this is the more likely option – it does not find the cost of enacting its vision too great.

-JG

What we can learn from Diane Rehm

Our goal here at Irrational Politics is simple, really. We want to pass along content that provokes thoughtful, intelligent, fact-based discourse. It is a noble pursuit that no one, ourselves included, will ever fully achieve, which is why I think it’s appropriate to remember that Diane Rehm came closer than most.

Rehm switched off her microphone for the final time Friday, concluding her namesake show’s run of nearly four decades on public radio. As the title of the linked NPR article suggests, she was “a mainstay of civil discourse” whose pursuit of the truth earned the respect of notable figures from all corners of the political spectrum.

Cubicles and cars were transformed each morning into spaces of listening and learning, where world issues were discussed, the arts were explored, and diverse perspectives were respected. Rehm wasn’t perfect, but then, she didn’t try to be. Every time that recording light came on at 10 a.m. she set aside personal politics as best she could to facilitate honest, open discussion. And that’s all any of us can do, really.

[26 years of the Diane Rehm show have been archived here]

-JG