"We can do without butter, but, despite all our love of peace, not without arms. One cannot shoot with butter, but with guns." - Joseph Goebbels
It always amazes me how much politicians, militarists and the economists who work for them love to use these phrases from the Third Reich to demonstrate a nation's basic decision: how to allocate scarce resources (land, labor, capital) to defend itself as a nation while (supposedly) not neglecting the needs of its people. As our social studies teachers in school were at such pains to explain to us, guns represent defense spending, while butter represents social spending. What they never explained was that while we can't shoot with butter, we also can't eat guns. I have yet to prepare a really delectable beurre blanc with a .357 magnum -- but I'm sure if you have that recipe, you'll share.
I know it's kind of early in the life of this blog for me to start in on politics and my very obvious biases and being horribly opinionated and all the rest of the blah blah blah blah. But it's not my fault that we had a State of the Union address last night. And it's hard to think or write solely about food when the mind is on overwhelm because the US Congress is being asked for 80 billion dollars more to press forward with the supposed agenda of "making the world safe and free". So just for a minute or two, today, I'm thinking about food in a slightly bigger context than what I'm having for dinner -- and I promise not to do this too often. (Worry not. I'm still very focused on the pastrami/corned beef sandwich I'm going to eat at Katz's Deli tonight. Maybe I'll even take a picture, if you're good.) Anyway, back to rocket launchers and dairy products. As those of you who are consumers of news media are no doubt aware, this new request for another 80 billion will up the spending totals in Iraq to more than 300 billion. This would bring our projected federal deficit to $427 billion dollars. Way big.
Here's what became clear to me last night during the address of the purported Leader of the Free World: it seems that our government is perfectly happy to mount up this enormous war debt, but is terrified of incurring financial problems by protecting the future of our elderly through the Social Security system. So they've come up with a new plan. We're to somehow or other invest the money we would have put into Social Security ourselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that this new plan is not a good deal for most people in this country. And certainly not a good deal for people like me who aren't anywhere near retirement age, but have been paying our cut into Social Security for a goodly number of years. Oh, and one more thing. If my understanding is clear, war debt is usually incurred through...war. Which as we know consists of killing people. This is quite different to my mind from a debt imposed by the Social Security system, which would be accumulated by insuring that adequate food, housing and other basic necessities are guaranteed to retirees: elderly folk who will have contributed substantially to this country's GNP for a period of, in most cases, several decades.
So I promise, within the next few days I'll be back to yummy recipes, fave new ingredients, and some of the delights of eating in New York. Enjoy it while you can. As for the seemingly far-off but actually closer-than-you-think future, forget about butter. If the current administration has their way, we may, as elders, have to scramble for bare necessities, rather than scrambling our eggs in pure, sweet butter; these simple things which we take for granted will become luxury items unlikely to be found in our plats du jour.