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David Kramer's high-entropy blog

“No New Taxes”: When will we learn?

I read an article this week on Charles Baker entering the race for Governor against Deval Patrick here in MA.  Whatever.  But the fun part is that he’s running on a platform of not raising taxes, and trying to repeal the recent increase in the state sales tax.  I know most people think we pay too much in taxes for what we get, and that it’s not fairly spread out, and not fairly apportioned, and an unfathomable amount of it is wasted on graft, corruption, and pet projects.  Of course everyone’s idea of what those froms and tos should be is different, so it is by definition impossible to please everyone, but that’s not my point.  Nor is it who is the better candidate.

My point is that if you have a government rife with waste and misappropriation, you cannot get it to “do the right thing” (even if everyone agreed on what that is) simply by reducing taxes, any more than you could make an overweight person healthy by simply reducing their calorie count.  There has to be effort put into uncovering and fixing the waste and corruption, or the vital services will be the first to suffer.  A politician that takes money is not going to suddenly become moralistic because there’s less money coming in.  Just like the overweight person must start with lifestyle changes like more exercise and sleep, a government cleanup must start with eliminating the waste and removing those responsible for the corruption.

Of course, that’s the hard way.  But the right way that leads to lasting success often is.  Silver bullets are for dreamers and werewolves.  So don’t listen to the quick fix people.  You can’t reduce taxes without coordinated attacks on misspent money and other ways of saving money in a sustainable way.  Other “simple solutions”, like the flat tax, are very regressive and have other problems (I’m willing to do a whole post on that if the comments go that way).  No, this one will take actual thought and finger-pointing.  The sheep need to open up their eyes and become critical thinkers and informed voters.

Yeah, that’ll happen.

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August 2nd, 2009 Posted by | 2 comments
Categories: Legal, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Well said

    Comment by Mike Harmon | August 2, 2009

  2. Agreed. Spending is the issue, not taxes. And frankly, if you just threw a dart at government spending and then slashed whatever the dart hit, you’d probably be doing some good (even if the dart hit something like “police” or “schools”).

    But politicians will never cut the right things, even if we all agreed on what those were. In fact, if we all agreed perfectly on exactly what we wanted government to spend money on, that would make it perfectly simply for the politicians: They’d spend all our money on what they wanted, and then claim they didn’t have enough money left over for our stuff.

    And they would get away with it, too.

    When I lived back in Walpole, the town council begged the voters to approve a tax increase so that they could afford to renovate the high school. Now, the high school did need to be renovated. But if you looked at the budget, you’d see that there was plenty of money for the school, but they were spending it all on special interests, projects that should have had a lower priority than the schools. It was the equivalent of spending all your income throwing giant, catered parties for your friends, and then going to the welfare office, complaining that you didn’t have enough money to make the rent. But they knew that the voters would never deny them the money to maintain the schools, because practically everybody agreed that schools were a top priority. The tax hike went through without a hitch.

    -TimK

    Comment by Tim King | August 3, 2009

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