The devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami have already taken a terrible toll on Japan. Furthermore, the unfolding drama surrounding the potential melt-down of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant underscores the fact that the dangers have not passed.
Initial death toll estimates are feared to be extremely understated as the effects of the disaster continue to be assessed. Initial estimates of clean-up expenses exceed $15 billion dollars and are presumed to increase as the days pass.
As the Japanese people deal with the devastation and loss of life, our own government dithers in its efforts to control its spending. As if the effects of Katrina have long been forgotten, our government continues to spend as if the next national disaster is a mere after-thought to the need to fund NPR (see here and here), Planned Parenthood (see here and here), and Cowboy Poetry.
It seems that we are incapable of establishing priorities in spending taxpayer dollars. How can we, as a nation, continue to fund every special interest as if it's the most important priority for government? When gas prices rise dramatically, although troublesome, we are forced to re-prioritize its use, not run to release oil from our Strategic Oil Reserves. After all, what would happen if we were to experience an unforeseen and dramatic reduction in our own energy supplies, as is occurring in Japan this very minute? From my viewpoint, the Strategic Oil Reserve is there in the event of a national emergency, not a momentary upswing in prices. However painful those increases in price may be, they can't compare to a situation where oil is not available at all. Have we forgotten about the 1973 oil embargo and the effects it had on our economy?
As major investors begin to dump their holdings in Treasury bonds for fear of a devaluation in their value, shouldn't we be concerned about our government exhibiting a little frugality in their spending habits? Where have our priorities gone?