Happy Independence Day

Bart Gragg points me to an arti­cle about Noreen Evans, an Assem­bly Mem­ber in Cal­i­for­nia. Cal­i­for­nia, as I under­stand it, is in the midst of a seri­ous bud­get cri­sis. Evans is quot­ed in the arti­cle as saying

This mantra out there ‘live with­in our means,’ while it sounds real­ly nice, while it sounds real­ly sim­ple and it sounds real­ly respon­si­ble, it’s meaningless.

My first thought is that Mr. Coupal, of The Howard Jarvis Tax­pay­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, did not give enough con­text for the quote. I found a You Tube video of Evans’ com­ments. She added to the quote above:

Our means are com­plete­ly with­in our control…In good times we rou­tine­ly give away tax­es and in lean times we nev­er replace those tax deduc­tions or close those loop­holes. We con­tin­u­ous­ly bor­row, which is an enor­mous cost that we shift on into future years and we find our­selves now with a deficit, an ongo­ing struc­tur­al deficit that we sim­ply can’t close.

It is not clear who put the video togeth­er, but it is clear it was not done by some­one in agree­ment with Evans. I give cred­it to who­ev­er did it for pro­vid­ing a fuller context.

OK. That appears to be what was said. In my book, giv­en the con­text, Evans is cor­rect (but also wrong). Since the gov­ern­ment con­trols what the means are, to live with­in one’s means is, at best, a slip­pery con­cept. The prob­lem here is that it is still nec­es­sary to live with­in the means, whether it is by increas­ing the means or decreas­ing the living.

My grasp of what is hap­pen­ing in Cal­i­for­nia is slim at best and most­ly ground­ed in Jay Leno jokes (and I have not watched Leno in sev­er­al months). So from here on out I am talk­ing in the con­text of the fed­er­al government.

No one in gov­ern­ment will use the con­trol of the means so that we live with­in our means. 

No one. Not the Democ­rats and not the Repub­li­cans.* I want so much to write:

The Democ­rats vote to maintain/​add pro­grams and raise tax­es while the Repub­li­cans want to cut pro­grams and cut tax­es and some­how this results in lots of pro­grams and low taxes.

But that would not be true. Repub­li­cans say they want to cut pro­grams and cut tax­es, but the empha­sis is cut­ting tax­es and the real­i­ty is cut­ting tax­es. Cut­ting pro­grams just gets lip ser­vice. It is my under­stand­ing that even Rea­gan man­aged to elim­i­nate only one pro­gram in eight years.

Democ­rats can­not raise tax­es suf­fi­cient­ly to pay for all the pro­grams because Repub­li­cans will raise hell and, we the peo­ple vote the Democ­rats out and the Repub­li­cans in and the tax­es get cut but not the pro­grams. Gen­er­al­ly, the Repub­li­cans are hap­py to run with deficits as long as tax­es are low and the deficits are not caused by any new programs.

The Democ­rats run on the issue of need­ed new pro­grams and we the peo­ple agree and vote them in. Pro­grams get added, some tax­es get raised (but not enough and deficits con­tin­ue) and Repub­li­cans run on cut­ting taxes.….

Note that the com­mon­al­i­ty in both sides of the prob­lem is we the peo­ple.

We the peo­ple like our pro­grams. We the peo­ple would of course rather have low­er tax­es than high­er tax­es if giv­en the choice. What’s a con­gress­man and sen­a­tor to do?

Two hun­dred and thir­ty three years ago, fifty six men, rep­re­sent­ing the thir­teen colonies, signed the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence. Their sig­na­tures appear just below the last sentence:

And for the sup­port of this dec­la­ra­tion, with a firm reliance on the pro­tec­tion of Divine Prov­i­dence, we mutu­al­ly pledge to each oth­er our lives, our for­tunes and our sacred honor.

Their lives, for­tunes and sacred hon­or.

Our con­gress­man and sen­a­tors today are not will­ing to put their own reelec­tion on the line, let alone their lives, for­tunes and sacred hon­or. And there you go. We the peo­ple want pro­grams with­out tax­es and our elect­ed offi­cials are not will­ing to dis­il­lu­sion us for fear we will not reelect them.

Three days ago I post­ed A Sea of Red Ink. My hope expressed there is that by run­ning the deficit/​debt up to unprece­dent­ed lev­els, our reps will then have no choice but to show some back­bone, risk reelec­tion, and fix the problem.

In the mean­time, if you com­plain your tax­es are too high, be sure you include in your com­plaint what pro­gram you would also have cut.

My best to Cal­i­for­nia. I hope they fig­ure some­thing out.

*Yes, Ron Paul would prob­a­bly cut every­thing, but one man is not enough (and peo­ple would want him lynched after their favorite pro­gram got cut).

2 thoughts on “Happy Independence Day”

  1. Rich;

    Well said. Thank you.

    Let me make two points here in addition.

    First point — per­haps there is hope. I am send­ing my son Randy off to Marine Corps boot camp on July 5th, 2009. A young man of 18 years of age, he has been train­ing him­self aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly for the years to come.
    Not too long ago he was asked “Are you Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can?” His reply “On what issue? You can­not make deci­sions based on a ‘tag’.” Maybe there is hope.

    Sec­ond point — we found out today that our small town of Anti­och, pop­u­la­tion has had 2 mur­ders so far this year, with 0 for 2008, from data tak­en from the Anti­och PD web­site. Actu­al­ly a 3rd homi­cide took place last week 3 blocks over from where we live. Due to bud­get deficits the city is of course look­ing to cut pro­grams, and they are talk­ing about cut­ting 6 police officers.

    I am going to talk to them about this because we the peo­ple may be able to help. Here is one exam­ple of how that help might hap­pen. Depend­ing on the dol­lar amounts involved, as well as how the city views the risk, etc. I pro­pose that a band of cit­i­zens take over the main­te­nance of our neigh­bor­hood park(s).

    There are enough of us around that either work from home or may be cur­rent­ly unem­ployed that we should be able to do the basic grass cut­ting and hedge trim­ming on our own. We the peo­ple may just end up sal­vaging pro­tec­tion while build­ing com­mu­ni­ty pride. We the peo­ple might be able to get up off of our couch­es and actu­al­ly do some­thing about our predicaments.

  2. My thanks to your son for his ser­vice. Although I have had plen­ty of dis­agree­ments over the years with how the politi­cians have uti­lized the armed ser­vices, I am con­fi­dent we are bet­ter off with them than with­out them. I appre­ci­ate the ser­vice of every man and woman who joins the military.

    I do not know many mem­bers of that gen­er­a­tion, but the ones I do know impress me a lot. Even the ones who are lib­er­al are about self respon­si­bil­i­ty. I agree there is a lot of hope for the future.

    Good luck with the com­mu­ni­ty project. That could eas­i­ly be a two or three year com­mit­ment to save the police offi­cer posi­tion. But if you get enough peo­ple involved it would work.

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