What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Linkee-poo wonders if it's too late to self medicate

Working on several issues. I've been toying with getting to work earlier so I can take a full hour lunch and maybe get some writing done. There are two problems here, 1) I'm in an opened cubicle that backs into a main hallway (lots of traffic and people stopping by willy nilly) and 2) means more time at work. Also, while the Fall is usually a time of past recriminations (the arguments in my head, as well as reliving past failures of conscience or embarrassments), this time now seems to be migrating to late winter (was the same last year). And I'm dealing with things I thought long put to bed.

But other than that, it looks like Maple Syrup season will be early again this year (note to maple producers, I don't see your buckets out yet, better get a move on or you'll miss prime time like last year). And I wonder if all the idiots who spouted off that "Global Warming can't be happening with all this snow!" will amend their positions now that it's warming into Spring earlier than normal. Yeah, I'm not holding my breath. And general note, Weather /= Climate.

John Scalzi goes on about the science fiction, science fantasy folderol. My thoughts pretty much track to his on this. Basically it's a bunch of people who want to say, "That drivel doesn't belong to us." For anybody who would want to argue about what is drivel and what isn't, let me just remind us all that 1) J. K. Rowling can't hear your criticism for all the money she has stuffed in her ears (she can afford to waste it that way), 2) Dan Brown, the same 3) Romance, prints more titles, sells more copies, and makes more money than any other book category (they're also leading the way with ebooks, BTW).

At Confusion there were a number of Steampunkish costumers there (I'm sure to celebrate the Reigning Queen of Steam, Cherie Priest). I don't get a lot of the ray guns and small hats, but I have to admits I'm a sucker for gear works and fine brass and copper contraptions, as well at the art nouveau aesthetic. And who doesn't like a good pair of googles? Anyway, even though steam isn't my bag (although I have a few stories ini the works), this Alt Living Expo/Con in Philly looks like it could be pretty cool. (see also the Tor.com page about it).

Janiece muses on getting older. Yeah, what she says (you know, except for the hot flashes thing, I've always run on the hot side).

The South Dakota law that really does legalize the homicide of abortion providers (or even though who speak in favor of abortion, because the language is so vague, although most commentators haven't gotten that far into the argument yet) has been discussed over a wide swath of the blogosphere. Really? Thanks TP for ushering in the new social conservative wave. Yeah, I know, wasn't your focus and you all don't care for that side of the politics, blah blah blah. I know you like to shout, "Can you hear us now?" Okay, how's this, the SD people soundly defeated two attempts by the legislature to outright ban abortion (by a 10+ point margin, both times). So you just understand where I'm coming from when I call bullshit.

The numbers on the spending cuts sound pretty big, but a pie chart helps put it in perspective. Yeah, I know, the Republicans have come back with $100 billion in spending cuts. So double that green wedge. Still, not much. And then there is also the accounting fun to inflate the real amount of the cuts to $100 billion.


Anonymous said...

How much does Obama's budget cut?

Anonymous Cassie

Steve Buchheit said...

I haven't heard the number reported for next year. The only number I could find was $775 M, however a quick tally of some of the cuts (like Great Lakes funds, heat programs, etc), takes me over $1 B (I'm sure the difference is probably in where funding in increased). The only number I've seen touted by the administration was $1.1 trillion over the next decade (however, some of that is from letting the Bush Era tax cuts for those making over $250,000 expire in two years).

And now we have closer numbers for the Republican proposed cuts, which put us at around $61B over the previous spending bill that was approved.

Just some things to keep in mind. The president's budget is not mandated by the Constitution, but is a cutesy to Congress which has the powers to set the budget and the appropriations. And the budget is nothing. It's the appropriations that really matter (as that is the "budget" that most people are thinking about when they think "budget", the budget the President sends over is more of a long term wish list, it's the appropriation legislation that actually allows the government to spend money).

Anonymous said...

Are we sure we're talking apples and apples here? The $100B cuts I've heard about are immediate; Obama's stretch out over a decade, right? How do we compare the two?

I've also read about Obama's budget actually appropriating MORE spending next year. I'm confused.


Steve Buchheit said...

It depends on where you draw the starting and ending lines, and what you include. Those $100b in cuts are in what was requested, but never approved. Going from the last approved budget, the number is actually around $61b. But even that is a misnomer, as we are halfway through the year (running at previous spending levels), so with just quick math, those cuts only will amount to $30.5 b in actual money (pro-rated because we're halfway through), and that's only if Congress gets it to the President's desk sometime this month (not likely - fiscal year starts in October).

And you're not meant to compare the two, because both sides win when you can't (or, in other words, both sides are performing accounting tricks to boost their numbers, and they really aren't comparable).

And Obama's budget cuts the actual $'s going out (by a large portion if you add in TARP and the Stimulus). This is the fun of government numbers (which is why I'm being so blithe about it). You can do some accounting tricks and get it to show how you're spending more.

You also might want to remember that Obama froze government salaries, which saved something in the order of $70 m, which would multiply to $1.2 trillion over a decade. You might also remember the ribbing the conservatives gave him for making such a move.

Remember how TARP was going to be $7+ Trillion? Yeah, well, looks like it's more going to cost us $68 B, and that's before you count in both the profit realized and interest paid. Now, it was $6.5 trillion out the door, but most of it came back (with interest). Sort of how when we spend money in the Village we automatically get a 1% reduction in wages spent (because that's our income tax).

Also, when people talk about "cutting that foreign aid", it's less than 1% of the total budget and something close to 80% comes back to the US in contracts with our industries (like Egypt's, guess who they buy much of their weapons from). I wish I could find the article again, but it's estimated that for each $1 we spend in foreign aid, the US gets $1.20 back.

Anonymous said...

And you're not meant to compare the two, because both sides win when you can't (or, in other words, both sides are performing accounting tricks to boost their numbers, and they really aren't comparable).

Probably the truest words I've heard all day.