Owens’ Fiscal Responsibility Will Help
Independence Feature Syndicate, June 7th
You’d think the sky was falling.
Governor Owens “slashes” $46 million from a $14 billion
budget, and howls of pain echo through the
But perspective doesn’t matter much in politics. That’s why
these cuts are a good example of how hard it is to make the moral case for
All politics is about using law to redistribute wealth: who loses, who wins, and by how much. Governments’ primary tool for raising money
is taxation, and politicians’ get re-elected by spending. The result:
distributed costs and concentrated benefits.
Taking a few dollars from every taxpayer and spending
targeted millions is a sure path to political success. The cost to individual
taxpayers is too small to worry about. The benefits pay off big time.
The problem arises when spending exceeds revenue. When this
happens, fiscally responsible leaders must undo the process. This is hard, for the same reasons that made
starting it so easy. Those who were
benefiting from redistributed wealth now have a great deal to lose. They’ll
complain to anyone who’ll listen. Those
who’ll benefit from fiscal responsibility, however, can’t be identified. It’s
just too hard.
My local paper just ran a story on how the revenue shortfall
is affecting non-profit agencies. Their
stories would break your heart. People down on their luck who were helped by
getting state funds are upset that the funding is gone. No one could have read their words without
And that’s exactly the problem. Where is the moving story about the worker
who just got a job, because a business came to
But all is not lost.
When people wonder if cuts are necessary, if deficit spending is really
a problem, and if taxes should be raised because cutting spending is “too
painful”, we need to sound a clarion call for the morality and justice of our
position. We must make the following
not moral to spend money you don’t have.
Doing so is lying, pure and simple.
our money. Wealth does not belong to
the state first, to be returned based on what we should be allowed to
keep. Wealth belongs to private
individuals first. We give up a small
portion of it for limited, essential tasks that governments perform to protect
3) True social
progress requires a very limited use of the redistributive power of government. The best way to fight poverty is to live in a
world where private property is respected, where everything gets better and
cheaper, and where men and women see a future bright enough to marry and create
stable homes for their children. This is
harder than throwing money at problems, but in the long run it’s infinitely
These are hard points to make when sound bites and
sentimentality guide public policy. But
we must try and make them. We cannot
rest until people of good will everywhere see fiscal conservatism as more just,
more moral, and more compassionate than the alternative.