|Guns or Butter...which one of these?|
Dr. J. being an expert min-maxer from 4 years of Dungeons and Dragons cut the butter production to a subsistence level while building a military capable of taking his classmates countries. At the end of the game, when there were no more worlds to conquer, he maintained a small military (internal police force) and built a butter obelisk as a totem to his brilliance.
What he didn't realize at the time, was the Achilles's Heel of the state run economy. They only function when they are conquering and expanding. Ask Rome.
Now the beauty if the free market economy is that it is a feed forward program with a well described multiplier of economic activity. That is why increasing government spending is a foolhardy way to stimulate or maintain economic growth. Unless you are conquering, you will run out of other people's money (thanks Maggie).
This gets us to the sillyness of the Big Bird controversy. We are spending $1.40 for every dollar the federal government takes in. Whenever spending cuts are proposed for non-essential and non-enumerated expenditures, such as public broadcasting, they're either 'too small to matter' or in regard to big entitlement, they're too big to touch. In other words the Democrats will keen like banshees if you touch their pet projects big and small. Furthermore politicians on both sides of the aisle eschew cutting their own pork.
The Democrats, however, love to go after the number one essential and enumerated line item and that is the defense budget. The most important role for the federal government is to protect and defend the several states. Beyond that, its role is simply to be the mortar holding the bricks together. Sure, the role has expanded (too much) over history, but that is the story of all republics (thanks, Mr. deTocqueville).
Were Dr. J. asked to play 'Guns and Butter' again, he would change the rules and tell his people that they're free to make their own butter, but he wants 10% to insure that the warmonger next door doesn't prey upon his prosperity. That rule change, however, would have landed him in the principal's office as it undermined his progressive teacher's lesson plan.