“You cannot have both guns and butter.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt
It is, of course, possible for a gun owner to walk in to a store and buy some butter. Or, why not just use the gun to rob the store? Either way, that’s not what FDR was getting at.
He made the comment above in the context of World War II. Food was being rationed to support the war effort. The old Boston Garden got its parquet floor then not because it was stylish, but because of a lumber shortage during that time. Generally, when a nation is at war, the whole nation is forced to make sacrifices. The rationale was that if we only have a certain amount of money in the budget and we spend a hunk of it on a war effort, we will have to do without some other luxuries until the war is over.
We’ve tried fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan without that same feeling of sacrifice, and it worked for a while. But the strain on the military is playing a major role in our so-called economic downturn. No food rations, but credit limits are being lowered. Public school budgets are being cut–those schools aren’t getting any new floors, parquet or otherwise. Unemployment and mortgage foreclosures are on the rise. Banks are failing at an alarming rate. The auto industry probably won’t get the $25 billion bailout they seek, but Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us well over 5 times that amount. And what have we gotten for that gross expenditure?
What we have gotten is a big bill that sooner or later must be paid. We think things are bad now, but the other shoe still has to drop. Once the bank bailouts don’t work and everyone truly has to live within their means for a while, it’s going to get ugly. Maybe ugly is not the right word. It’s going to get real.