There’s a new TV show that’s being advertised constantly. Call me a wuss if you will, but I can’t bring myself to watch it.
It’s Bates Motel — the back story, apparently, of Norman Bates and his mother, Norma. Of course, Norman figured prominently in the Hitchcock thriller Psycho, where he donned his mother’s dress and ruthlessly stabbed to death a young woman taking a shower in the motel that Norman managed. I think Psycho is one of the creepiest, most unsettling movies ever made, and Norman Bates is one of the creepiest, most unsettling movie characters ever conceived. In view of that, why in the world would I want to see even more of young Norm and his unbalanced mother? Is there really a big audience for a TV that tells their disturbing story?
Of course, if Bates Motel is successful it might start a trend. Why stop at telling the bloody tale of only one horror movie icon? No doubt other TV producers will begin searching for frightening film characters whose earlier days remain unexplored. Some possibilities: Little White, the moving, coming-of-age tale of an awkward young shark striving to become an unstoppable killing machine off the beaches of Amity in New England; Hockey Boy, the whimsical tale of Jason Voorhees, an uncoordinated youngster whose dreams of career in the NHL are foiled but who discovers he experiences strange new urges when he dons a hockey mask; and Vlad Ain’t Bad, a comedy about a white-skinned, cape-wearing exchange student from eastern Europe who fits right in with the Goth crowd then discovers an insatiable craving for corpuscles.
How foolish is managing the federal budget through the across-the-board “sequestration” process? The federal judicial system provides a good illustration of the chaotic lunacy that prevails when the President and Members of Congress fail to do their jobs and enact thoughtful, considered budgets.
From a budgeting standpoint, the judiciary is unique. Unlike other agencies and entities, it doesn’t operate grant programs or distribute benefit checks or buy advertising to discourage drunk driving or promulgate regulations. Instead, it exists solely to resolve disputes and try those accused of federal crimes. Its budget is spent largely on people — on judges and their law clerks, bailiffs and court reporters, docket clerks and security personnel — who make the system function smoothly.
Sequestration will require $350 million in cuts to the federal judicial system. Because federal judges are appointed for life and will be paid regardless of how fiscally irresponsible the President and Congress may be, the cuts that sequestration brings will fall disproportionately on the other people who are part of the process. As a result, court security operations will be impaired, federal oversight of those free on bond prior to trial and those paroled from federal prisons will be reduced, and jury trials and bankruptcy proceedings will be delayed due to lack of funds — among other consequences.
A capable court system is one of the bedrock requirements of a free, well-ordered society. The role of federal courts has become increasingly important as new regulations are produced and challenged, as new federal crimes are created, and as courts are increasingly viewed as the ultimate arbiter of all manner of disputes. Why, then, should federal courts be subject to the same across-the-board budgeting treatment as federal agencies and programs whose purpose is much less fundamental to the proper functioning of government and society?
The President and Congress need to start doing their jobs.