Q: What do our border emergencies and the readiness of our military have in common?

A: The Firemen First Principal. This refers to the government’s way of closing down its vital functions before they look to strip out waste or alter failed policies. Once ensconced in their silos, resources remain there, and digging them out is predicated on politics rather than needs. Failures are met with the shrug of “what do you expect, you cut our budget.” The result is that to fail is to grow, government becomes bigger, and at the same time less functional. In the age of Trump particularly, politics and failure are synonyms.

The USA spends more on defense than the next seven nations combined (many of which are our allies) yet planes still fall from the sky for want of maintenance. Only 20% of our B1 fleet is available for service (crucial and in constant service in Afghanistan). Here are a couple more links on the political hurdles of reforming the defense industry, if you want to enrage yourself further. We have spent more on border security for Afghanistan than for America. Which is not to say we should (which is not to say they will give back the money).

The meg of a maw swallows a defense budget so large that accounting for it all is not even possible, yet it cannot fix what it has. This is the same process that can’t find resources to hire (or transfer) enough judges to adjudicate the Constitutional rights of asylum seekers. Not one item in the pork book can be used towards the emergency.

The only direction the meg of a maw (Megmaw) can go is into taxpayer debt, the deficit now practically an abstract realm of consequences due. Look what meal Megmaw demands when it finally gets beyond partisan warfare and acknowledges there is an emergency (“concentration camps for children”): a rush budget of 2.7 billion, to buy 54,000 beds, which works out to 50,000 per emergency bed. All eyes on the page know they could lower that price by several orders of magnitude using private contractors and private security. What about the people who do try fixing the problem on their own like this? Megmaw will have them busted.

Ask Megmaw to adapt, and it threatens the functionality of the whole system, it will only consent to grow. So, Megmaw demands a border wall, a grandiose boondoggle of a multi-thousand mile wall, to maw in money for its whole future, when what the system really needs are more clerks and judges. Of course, the meg-wall will do nothing about the 85% of illegals who overstay their visas, so an expensive failure is assured. Which is a problem for taxpayers, but not for Megmaw (see paragraph two).

The Firemen First Principal is how last time we looked at cutting the defense budget, we wound up with most of our Eastern Carrier fleet lined up, photogenically useless, at the Hampton Roads pier: “cut our budget and strategic assets can’t do their strategies!” Threaten the mission before adaptation, came the message from Flag rank men who will risk their lives to face combat, but won’t risk their careers for a cutback.

Nobody wants to change. But only the government can refuse to. Private entities, when they must evolve, evolve. Apple does not respond to off-sales of iPads by locking up their store and saying “nobody gets any!” “if you don’t buy iPads, our cashiers will not be transferred to the busiest stores! We will set up tents before we change procedures!”

Where the evolution is heading is a government that translates input (tax dollars) into fat, with the threat that only bone and skeleton can ever be cut. With deficits ballooning in the middle of the developed world’s most booming economy, the end-point of Megmaw must be that thing from Star Trek that hoovers whole worlds at a time.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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