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).