In Defense of Drunken Sailors

By Gillespie, Nick | Reason, April 2004 | Go to article overview

In Defense of Drunken Sailors


Gillespie, Nick, Reason


TO SAY THAT President George W. Bush has been spending money like a drunken sailor is an insult to drunken sailors. After all, when land-starved seamen go on their binges, they spend only their own money, not yours and mine. With very few exceptions--such as the income tax cuts he improbably muscled through and his recent vague gesture toward loosening immigration laws--Bush has done nothing to further the "free minds and free markets" that reason champions.

His willingness to slap tariffs on lumber and steel demonstrated that he's no principled free-trader. His Medicare "reform" shows he's ready, willing, and able to buy votes with the best (that is, worst) of them. His proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 would increase defense spending by over 8 percent, nondefense discretionary spending by 6 percent, and entitlement spending by almost 5 percent. Sadly, such Texas-sized hikes are hardly surprising: Through his first three fiscal years, Bush oversaw a total inflation-adjusted spending increase of about 16 percent.

Fiscal profligacy is bad enough, especially coming from a candidate who claimed he would cut government spending (and, lest we forget, institute a "humble" foreign policy). But Bush has not only kicked out the jams on taxpayer-funded treats; he has morphed into, in Andrew Sullivan's apt term, a "nanny-in-chief."

In this year's State of the Union address--a milestone in mind-numbing fluff--Bush spent more time talking about testing school kids for drugs and the evils of steroids than he did about Social Security privatization. …

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