I was happy to see that the Lowell National Park’s Visitor Center on Market Street opened on time yesterday and showed no immediate impact of the budget cutting “sequester” that went into effect on Friday. As the most visible Federal government presence in the city, the Lowell National Park will be closely watched for signs of these cuts. I’ve heard that keeping the VC open and the tours on schedule are the priorities but that the cuts will be felt in the funding of ancillary events such as the Lowell Summer Music Festival and the Lowell Folk Festival. It’s too soon to be predicting the cancellation of either of these, but they both bear watching.
Someone once said that “Americans like everything about socialism but the name” which I think is pretty accurate. It constantly astounds me that many who rail against the government and overspending derive such a large part of their own income from government spending be it directly in the form of paychecks or pensions or indirectly in the form of goods or services sold to the crowds that come to an event like the Lowell Folk Festival which is substantially (though not exclusively) dependent on government funding. If the government funding benefits me, it’s a wise expenditure. If it benefits you, it’s waste. That sums up the true philosophy of many of the self-professed conservatives amongst us.
So yes, it’s best to take a wait and see attitude on the effects of the sequester, but those who say that a cut of “only” 2.3% from a $3.6 trillion budget will have no discernible impact don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s not an across the board cut at the start of the fiscal year. The biggest expenditures – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – are exempt and we’re already nearly half way through the Federal fiscal year. Much money has already been allocated and spent and so the pool left to cut from is a lot smaller than $3.6 trillion. Maybe this region will escape any or at least the worst of the budgetary pain. There’s another saying: “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your’s.”