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Government goes on a diet in UK; can we?

Cal Thomas's picture

Thirty-six years ago when he first ran for Congress, Lake Jackson, Texas obstetrician Ron Paul rented billboards depicting a seriously obese Uncle Sam with the caption: “Put Big Government on a Diet.”

Most Americans, with the possible exception of those addicted to government benefits, would probably be happy to return to the 1975 federal debt level of a paltry $84 billion. Today, the national debt is $13 trillion and rising.

While Republican congressional candidates and many GOP incumbents are promising smaller and less costly government, the new British coalition government has decided to begin a serious restructuring of its entitlement state.

Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced plans to cut spending in Britain across the board in the largest decrease in the size and cost of government since World War II. These cuts, if fully implemented by Parliament, will outdo reductions enacted by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, which the Left characterized as too severe and liable to kill people. Sound familiar?

“Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink, when we confront the bills from a decade of debt,” Osborne told Parliament. “It is a hard road,” he said, “but it leads to a better future.”

Among the changes is a rise in the retirement age to 66, “beginning in 2020, six years earlier than planned,” reports BBC News. There have been demonstrations in the streets of Paris over a government proposal to save money by increasing the French retirement age to 62 from 60. The British people will have 10 years to prepare, which ought to be enough time for attitudes to change from what they are “entitled” to from government using other people’s money, to what they should do for themselves with their own money.

Perhaps the biggest cuts in Britain will come from a reduction in government jobs. Under the proposal by the conservative-liberal coalition government of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, “500,000 public sector jobs could go by 2014-15, as a result of the cuts program,” according to the BBC. Again, five years should be enough time for people to make plans to find new jobs in the private sector, or start a business.

Each government department is required to publish next month a business plan in which reforms to be made over the next four years will be spelled out.

The one area targeted for substantial cuts that should be reconsidered is the Ministry of Defense, which faces an 8 percent spending reduction. Some critics think such a drastic decrease in military spending may keep Britain from fulfilling its role in the war against terrorists in Afghanistan. Given that Islamic extremists have attacked Britain, as well as America, this could be a case of Britain cutting its own throat.

Everyone except the politicians who spend to buy votes and the people addicted to other people’s money knows that Britain and America can’t go on like this. When Republicans hold power, Democrats complain about the deficit and debt. Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration have sent our debt off the charts with more to come. The day of financial reckoning is at hand.

Americans and Britons must change their mindset and start taking care of themselves and each other. Liberty, not government, should be paramount.

I have recently lost 35 pounds on the most successful diet I have ever tried. Previous diets didn’t fail me. I failed them because I lacked the motivation to make them work.

In order to put big government on a diet, the same attitude adjustment is necessary among the American people, as it must be for the British people. In the end, if we do it right, we too can take a road that “leads to a better future.”

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at] ©2010 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.


Great Britain proposed an 8% military budget cut, specifically targeted at its Expeditionary (i.e. overseas) Forces capabilities.

The United States defense budget is about $1.4 trillion dollars per year.
Imagine reducing that amount by 8%.

Mike King's picture

.....But, why stop there? Why not cut a full 8% across the board with each and every recipient of federal US funds? I'm positive that some expenditures could be eliminated altogether.

Tax increases without corresponding cuts in spending do nothing but postpone the payment due date. The same can be said for tax cuts. Let's get serious and stop obligating our posterity.

Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining. From the movie: "Outlaw Josie Wales."

I can handle the cut but not until all our troops are back home from Iraq & Afghanistan. I could also handle taking our troops out of S. Korea and agree with reduction of the majority of foreign aid.

PTC Observer's picture

Bring them all home from everywhere and the sooner the better. We need to protect our borders and our seas. That's it. Leave the rest of the world alone and let them work out their own problems.

We can no longer protect our mercantile interests through force. Let’s have free trade with the world but not one cent for military expansionism.

I was hoping for a firebreather to come in here and declare the Defense budget to be sacrosanct and off-limits, and here you are, makin' rational proposals.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what President Obama intends to accomplish in Afghanistan, btw.

As far as Korea goes, didn't President Carter float that trial balloon back in the late 1970s? If I recall correctly, Major General Singlaub instigated a right-wing hissy fit when Carter proposed bringing home the 8th Army.

What say you re: Star Wars/SDI?

I freely admit I don't know enough about either to have formed any sort of opinion--but I'll have a look. Gotta go to the Fitness Center first--and avoid ugly storms that may be headed out way--perhaps they'll stay more Northward, or so it appears on the Doppler radar.

Those names are no longer appropriate as all of Space & Ballistic Missile Defense was rolled into the Space & Missile Defense Command I believe. I would suggest an in-depth technical review of our capabilities versus current and possible adversaries and, if the review reflects a sizable lead on our part, then surely some money could be cut from that budget, doing what is necessary to maintain that lead. I never had to deal with space issues, except those involving intel collection (of multiple sorts) using special technical vehicles. And yes, I remember Gen Singlaub, in fact he and I were assigned to HQ Forces Command the same month. I can remember joking that the Army was sending two of its biggest troublemakers to the same place in order to make watching us easier! He was a helluva soldier, with many of his accomplishments being behind enemy lines.

In your opinion is there a clean method for a senior officer to express his views about such things as President Carter's wish to gradually withdraw from S. Korea, and also to stop production of the B-1 Bomber?

The General himself says he could have served loyally after the incident and told President Carter so.

Wasn't the problem that he did this sort of thing several times?

Whatever occurs in such circumstances however, we must never allow the military to think that they can under some pretense violate Executive wishes.

That is what the Administration and Congress are for. A general here and there retired before something serious occurs is a small price to pay.

Only clean method I know is resignation, which certainly sends signals that resonate throughout.

That is the current procedure now.

But we all know that there are numerous senior officers who disagree with many policies.
Are we to say that as long as they don't mention it, it will be OK and that we can trust them to do their best in spite of total disagreement?

Saying if no one knows who will tell that it makes no difference does not answer the question!

I see that as a similar problem that we now have of polarization between the two political parties.

There is also the possibility that money can be made with say a book, or speeches after resignation!

Would not the proper way maybe be for the officer to ask his senior to allow him to vent his feelings to Washington privately and then accept whatever final decision is made?

Of course his senior would have to endorse his feeling indicating whether he too agrees or disagrees!

I openly see this as possible for Command Generals, or assistants.

McChristol trusted too many with his feelings, although he probably was following orders anyway. We have got to be careful at selection time for Commanders---just as was done with Eisenhower.

Yes, trust them. I believe the majority of Sr Officers have the integrity to adhere to their oath even if they do not agree with the political stance. But no, I can't see one Sr Officer asking his Senior for a "Mother May I" to go whining to the Department Level. Those who I have personally known would never do that.

Maybe that is why some of the things that happen, are bad later.

Instance: One Star at Abeu-Ghraib! There are many others.

If Seniors "whine," then I agree! I think it is just called that---and that they wouldn't "whine."

Don't bug them, don't stir it up, it stinks!

Just obey orders.

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