In the name of enhancing Utah’s self-reliance, Sen. Allen Christensen wishes to impose a five-year ineligibility period for new legal immigrants to access Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This appalling and reprehensible proposal is based on Christensen’s premise that, “The more you depend on government, the more vulnerable you are because if the government can give it, the government can take it away just as easily.”

If Christensen wants to enhance Utah’s self-reliance while abandoning the bad idea of taking CHIP away from new legal immigrant children, he would be well advised to instead focus on Utah’s dependence upon the wasteful, redundant and unnecessary government boondoggle that is Hill Air Force Base.

I can already hear the hue and cry in response to the preceding paragraph: “What!” my critics will exclaim, “Hill performs vital and essential functions!” Well, to the extent there are vital functions, and almost certainly there are some, those functions could easily be moved into, and consolidated with, places such as Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, or Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, or Fairchild Air Force Base and/or McChord Air Force Base, both in Washington State, or Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Consider that Hill Air Force base is far, far from the U.S. border. Presumably, Air Force jets are intended to attack and deter foreign invaders. Consider, also, that the human-operated jets at Hill Air Force Base will become obsolete in a few more years. There will be hand-wringing and teeth gnashing over the prospect of closing Hill, because it is closest to the Utah Test and Training Range but, for ultra-fast military aircraft, the extra time to fly to Utah’s west desert from Nevada or Arizona is immaterial.

Closing Hill Air Force base could eliminate the military’s costs for all of the overhead at Hill that supports the few specialized functions there. Consolidating bases and reducing costs is called efficiency, and I am assuming Christensen is a fan of efficiency when it comes to government spending. Military experts have long acknowledged that the U.S. has far too many domestic military bases. These extra bases endure because politicians lack the courage to make the unpopular decision to close them.

Consider also the risks to Utah’s continuing dependence upon pork barrel bases such as Hill. Democrats could well come into power in one to three years. Democrats have traditionally been modestly more skeptical about pork barrel military spending. Further, the Democrats’ professed concern about the federal budget deficit will create more pressure to reduce military spending as a result of the reckless tax cut just passed by the Republicans. With Democrats returned to power, the idea of closing a red state military base like Hill might not be so far-fetched.

It would be better for Utah to enhance its self-reliance by taking matters into its own hands in closing its boondoggle Air Force base. With Utah Republicans in control of the closure, they could assure it occurs in an orderly, less disruptive manner that helps assure that Utah’s path to Christensen’s ideal of greater self-reliance is relatively smooth.

Eric Rumple

Eric Rumple, Sandy, has an MBA from the University of Chicago and is the author of the novel “Forgive Our Debts.”