Saturday, February 27, 2010

Semper Paratus

Because of its maritime history, Cape Cod has an almost reverential regard for the Coast Guard and its traditional mission as guardian of our seaways, shorelines, seafarers, and ships.

Since 9/11, the USCG has been part of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to search & rescue, it is a first responder to natural disasters and maritime emergencies at home and abroad; a drug interdiction agency; a sentinel against illegal immigration, the smuggling of WOMD and other weaponry; and the overseer of American port security. In light of that expanded mission, it is disheartening to read that, after a decade of underfunding, its 2011 budget is to be cut by a further 3.3%.

It is, of course, problematical for the USCG to be part of a federal department so gigantic and revenue-devouring that libertarians foam at the mouth just thinking about it. Hence, when the Administration looks for places to cut in response to taxpayer outrage, the DHS is an inviting target.

There are, fortunately, voices calling for a reversal, including that of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) chairman of the sub-committee overseeing Coast Guard and Marine Transport matters, who said, "I think you will have the unanimous support of [this] committee. We will proceed...very effectively and very efficiently".

Realistically, though, numerous federal agencies participate in the oversight of DHS, and the Coast Guard, as one of that department's 22 components, could get lost in the shuffle of Congressional budgetary infighting. So I would urge readers to contact your senators and congressmen, and ask that they seek some way to reduce the federal budget other than further starving a quintessential element of our national security.

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