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The Sun Also Rises

The unhappy children making a nuisance of themselves in Washington, D.C., ought to take a leaf from the sage of Ecclesiastes. Yes, Donald Trump is about to become president (in 3 hours and 45 minutes from now, but who’s counting? Update: he's now president!). But fear not. Life will go on. The sun also ariseth. The winds will continue to blow. Spring will come. The tulips will bloom.

It will go on even if that bulletin in The Hill yesterday is true: “Donald Trump,” it announced, “is ready to take an ax to government spending.” Can it be so? If The Hill is right, spring may be coming early this year.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

“Overall,” we read, “the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.”

Between us, I cannot help recalling the motto that the British travel writer Alexander Kinglake wanted to have inscribed over the lintels of the Churches in England: “Interesting, if true.”

I have no idea whether Trump will be able to save that sort of money by cutting loose or getting rid of cultural cesspits like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or the National Endowments for Left-wing Assaults on American Culture. When measured against the gigantic mandated spending programs of the United States government -- Social Security cost $888 billion last year, Medicare $646.2 billion, Medicaid $545.1 billion -- the sums spent on programs that explicitly attack conservative ideas are a drop in the bucket.

Still, the impulse is a salutary one. Trump is not even, not quite, president yet, but he is setting a good example. The government had appropriated $6 million for the transition. Trump is sending back $1.2 million, or 20%, to the U.S. Treasury.

That’s merely lunch money in Washington, I know, but it sets a good example and helps instill a proper Calvin Coolidge-like respect for what, let’s remember, is the people’s money, not the bureaucrats’ money.

The fact is, the ship of state has acquired a thick and expensive layer of barnacles. That scaly encumbrance impedes our progress, costs us time and money, and intrudes upon our lives in countless ways. It is time time to scrape the hull.

If it were up to me, I would cashier all the programs I’ve named: the “temporary” Depression-Era model of unsustainable government boondoggles, Social Security, the not-so-great Great Society programs of Medicare and Medicaid, the various efforts to institutionalize elitist anti-American and anti-traditional sentiment like the National Endowments and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- were it up to me, I’d get rid of them all.