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May 31, 2009

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My own view, however, is that the American public doesn’t really understand the full implications of “small government” ideology

I don't think many people believe in a small government ideology. I think many people believe in an I don't want to pay my taxes ideology.

Find out how many people refuse to travel on an interstate highway or other public road because they object to big government.

That is your set of principled believers in small government.

This is why I support Texas secession. Give the conservatives an independent non-US "homeland" where they can go Galt to their heart's content.

I think that would go a long way to stilling the political waters in this country in the future as sane but misinformed or uninformed citizens with "conservative" leanings in the rest of the country (and in Texas) get to watch Texas slowly morph into the equivalent of North Korea.

"The federal government provides a huge (if inadequate) safety net that effectively limits the damage that red state governments can inflict on their people."

The flip side of this, of course, is that the federal government levies a huge level of taxation, which effectively prevents red states from reaping the benefits of opting for small government.

That's the core of the argument here in SC about Sanford not wanting to take the stimulus money: "But if we don't take it, we're still going to pay the taxes that fund it!" We don't have the option of refusing the stimulus AND the taxes that will pay for it.

A truly principled small government believer would only breath pre-1970 air and drink pre-1970 water, eat only food not inspected by the FDA, use only products not inspected by the Consumer Safety Protection Commission, patronize establishments only in regions where there is no zoning, buy clothes made only in illegal sweatshops, and employ only the child labor of illegal immigrants, if the labor is done in over twelve hour shifts, while using illegal drugs.

Only then would you truly demonstrate belief in your principles.

I don't think many people believe in a small government ideology.

You're probably right about that. I'd put actual small-gov't libertarians at about 7-10% of the population.

I think many people believe in an I don't want to pay my taxes ideology.

Wouldn't everyone? But this, I think, is a bit like arguing that the only reason many people are Christian is because they don't want to go to hell. People are attracted to an ideology by...the attractive parts. Whether they stick around for the less pleasant stuff is another matter, but it generally unfair to dismiss the entire group on the assumption that many are just there for the punch and pie.

Find out how many people refuse to travel on an interstate highway or other public road because they object to big government. That is your set of principled believers in small government.

I think a person could make a principled argument that their money was taken by taxes to build and maintain those roadways, and although that's not how they would have spent it, now that the money's been spent it is foolhardy to scorn the fruits of it.

That's of course presuming that "these people" of whom we speak don't think that infrastructure is a legitimate role of national government, when many (I'd hazard most) do. So infrastructure arguments are a bit of a strawman. You might do better with something like health care or education.

My own view, however, is that the American public doesn’t really understand the full implications of “small government” ideology. Simply put, they like it only because they’ve never had to endure it.

The people of California are about to have a taste of it.

Actually, the people of California probably will not have a taste of it. At least, nothing resembling an accurate taste.

Why not? Because the legislature will not make the necessary cuts in anything like a "small government" direction. After all, they could simply cut the big new programs that they have put in during the last 15-20 years, and be back in surplus real quick.

But no way they will do that. The members of the California legislature have priorities, and small government isn't one of them. So they will cut stuff that they don't care much about. Or, better yet, stuff that will cause enough pain to enough people that they can get the state constitution amended to allow taxes to be raised without a super-majority vote.

But no way they will do that. The members of the California legislature have priorities, and small government isn't one of them. So they will cut stuff that they don't care much about. Or, better yet, stuff that will cause enough pain to enough people that they can get the state constitution amended to allow taxes to be raised without a super-majority vote.

That sort of implies that the people of California WILL get a taste of it--and they won't like it one bit.

>> I think many people believe in an I don't
>> want to pay my taxes ideology.

Wouldn't everyone?

I don't. Warren Buffet doesn't.

I think a person could make a principled argument that their money was taken by taxes to build and maintain those roadways, and although that's not how they would have spent it, now that the money's been spent it is foolhardy to scorn the fruits of it

And I don't agree with that. On an earlier thread, I said I would not work for or invest in companies that sell weapons of war or tobacco products. I scorn the fruits of those particular enterprises. I do not think this is foolhardy, even though I know that by doing so, I just enable someone else who does not share my moral concerns to make an incrementally larger profit. I will not participate, in any way, in those ventures, at all, ever.

I would expect that if someone had a small government ideology they would act similarly. But no one does.

That's of course presuming that "these people" of whom we speak don't think that infrastructure is a legitimate role of national government, when many (I'd hazard most) do

Then they don't have a small government ideology, they think government should do the things it is good at and that government should not do the things it is not good at, which is close to the same thing every other rational person on the planet thinks.


... get to watch Texas slowly morph into the equivalent of North Korea

And then we've got the equivalent of North Korea where Texas is, which sounds considerably worse than the current situation.

Watching Ca from the front row, as it were: nescessary expenditures- home health visits for shut ins, including quadriplegics and the very old, fire staff cuts- in the land of .....insane.... wildfires, after school programs that keep vast armies of ill raised kids occupied; needed infrastructure maintence- sewers, water, roads, the "commons"- those things that belong to even the poorest citizen, beaches, parks and the like- will go unfunded.
The usual insanely stupid funding sinkholes- like spending $600,000/yr to drive seals away from a local cove they took over, will continue.
Because the Ca government is not much more than a criminal (ly incompetant) gang, a heavily armed one at that.

so its not like there will be a rational, selfless, service- oriented taking stock here. The things cut will be things belonging to constituencies with no power. I expect blood in the streets, actually. Our cops have lots of practice gunning down unarmed people, and we have the worlds largest prison system, itself run by the worlds largest prison guard gang.
Of course, the $ spent on the Wars burns on.......and monuments to the State such as "public safety" palaces, golf course subsidies/free rides, junkets, "studies", and crackpot micro-regulation will continue.
About the only "lessons" to be learned here in Ca is too big, and letting the Lege draw its own districts will always end in disaster.

And I don't agree with that. On an earlier thread, I said I would not work for or invest in companies that sell weapons of war or tobacco products. I scorn the fruits of those particular enterprises. I do not think this is foolhardy, even though I know that by doing so, I just enable someone else who does not share my moral concerns to make an incrementally larger profit. I will not participate, in any way, in those ventures, at all, ever.

There's a world of difference between the two cases.

Case #1: Government takes your money, then buys something with it according to its own priorities and desires, and then allows you to use it. You decide whether it is consistent with your principles to do so.

Case #2: You, being free to do with your money how you wish, refuse to spend that money on XYZ product/service, on moral grounds, to bring your investments and/or labor into concordance with your principles.

The salient difference is the level of consent for the expenditure from your funds.

Then they don't have a small government ideology, they think government should do the things it is good at and that government should not do the things it is not good at, which is close to the same thing every other rational person on the planet thinks.

No, they do. Many people would list a small government as justice, defense, infrastructure, full stop. Only outlier anarcho-capitalists would eschew public infrastructure, and let's not get into the scotsman game. Would you not stipulate that a person who thinks the government should do only those three things is a person who believes in a small government ideology?

No, they do. Many people would list a small government as justice, defense, infrastructure, full stop

Then you need to come up with examples of people who refuse any government services that do not fit in those categories. And those people do not exist.

There are no small government conservatives. There are I do not want to pay my taxes conservatives.

And, again, I want to pay my taxes.

"Many people would list a small government as justice, defense, infrastructure, full stop."

And for lots of those folks, "justice" extends only to enforcement of contracts and protection of life and property.

Most folks would also include establishing and supporting some kind of national currency in there also, although perhaps that's included under "infrastructure".

Most folks would also include establishing and supporting some kind of national currency in there also, although perhaps that's included under "infrastructure".

If the Good Lord had wanted the governent to establish and support a national currency, he wouldn't have invented gold.

Then you need to come up with examples of people who refuse any government services that do not fit in those categories. And those people do not exist.

That's a pretty absurd statement of knowledge. It is extremely probably that it is false on its face, but even better, it doesn't even address the point. The original point was that once the government has taken your money and bought what it will with it, you might as well use the product, and this use has diddly to do with "principle", especially standing on it. You have yet to address this simple point, and so your calls for "find me a man who eschews all federal services!" are shots that still fall amongst straw targets.

That's a pretty absurd statement of knowledge

No, it's the gold standard of differentiating between people who claim to believe in something but are really just concerned about money and power and people who claim to believe in something and really believe in it.

Small government ideologues fail the test.

It's really sad.

"If, however, Americans actually got a taste of a world with fully privatized Social Security, or with significant elimination of environmental regulations, conservatism would soon become a wholly discredited ideology."

Kind of summarizes the past eight years, doesn't it?

The flip side of this, of course, is that the federal government levies a huge level of taxation, which effectively prevents red states from reaping the benefits of opting for small government.

Those same red states are absolutely free to have as small of a state and local government as they would like, and to set their state income tax, municipal income tax, and sales taxes as low as they want to to accomplish the same. In fact, they could all set them to zero if they want to put their principles into practice.

ANybody want to bet on what the results are if I look up a table of state income and sales taxes? Brett?

Furthermore, given the distribution of poverty in the US, I don't think a great majority of residents of those states are getting taxed at the 35% rate. The median income in Texas, e.g., is around $48,000, which is in the 15% bracket. Don't know that I'd call that "a huge level of taxation."

I read Publius' " The Perils of Ignoring the "Real World"" before I read this post. And it struck me that Publius ignores the real world.

For example, he writes this: //My own view, however, is that the American public doesn’t really understand the full implications of “small government” ideology. Simply put, they like it only because they’ve never had to endure it.// and //In short, there are a number of entrenched federal policies that prevent the full implications of “small government” ideology from playing out.// and //So it’s important to understand that the Jindal/Sanford posturing about the stimulus – along with the extreme and absurd “sovereignty” resolution proposals – all take place on top of an invisible safety net. //

In the real world there is a visible safety net. A liberal may look at the safety net and say "I want more". A 'small government' advocate may look at it and say "I want less". But both are speaking in reference to what IS. Publius writes as if both are starting from blank sheets of paper - he ignores the real world.

Perhaps this goes a way towards shedding light on the thing Gary questions in "The Perils of Ignoring the "Real World"" thread that follows. Here is Gary's comment: //I've reread publius' post three times, trying to figure out what point he's making, and the best I can do is this: "The real world matters." Which seems an exceedingly vague point to hang a post on. Otherwise it just seems to be a post about the Tiller killing for the sake of having a post about the Tiller killing. Maybe I'm missing something.//

It appears to me that Publius' subconscious was telling him "You can't ignore the real world like that" after he wrote this post. And he responded to that subconscious thought by writing: 'Murder blah blah blah bad republican blah blah blah don't ignore the real world' in the next post.

Just my two cents.

d'd'd'dave,
My unkind psychoanalysis of your comment is that you couldn't come up with a constructive criticism, but felt a need to respond somehow.
Of course, that's a useless theory- just as useless as yours- but Im managed to save many an electron with my parsimony. If you're not actually going to make an argument, keep the verbiage and blockquotes to a minimum.

//If you're not actually going to make an argument, keep the verbiage and blockquotes to a minimum.//

Are you the site police?

The constructive criticism was in the third paragraph. Perhaps you missed it.

Shorter d'd'd'dave at 9:58
Of course we don't really mean what we say about small government, we just like to skeeve off liberals.

I read the Post article with interest. In the comments, lots of whining from, I guess, blue staters regarding subsidizing the people in the red states. What caught my attention is the fact that Texas is the usual red state example used and I recall a recent article, I think carried on MSN on the internet, listing the top ten cities in the country where people are relocating. Almost, if not all, were in red states, and Texas had four of the ten cities. Are these conservatives leaving blue states to go to environments they think they will like more or is there some other explanation?

And one other thing. You see if we didn't tax and try to decide everything in Washington about all the myriad things that government could conceivably do for its citizens, then those people who are whining in the comments and are residents of blue states could tax themselves to their hearts' content at the state level (like California) and their tax dollars would not be sent to Texas. And the poor people of Texas, who feel they are underserved by their small government could leave and go to the blue states where they can get lots of government services and be taxed up to their eyes.

"In the comments, lots of whining from, I guess, blue staters regarding subsidizing the people in the red states. "

Didn't read the comments, but at least it's a change from red staters b*tching about the federal taxes they, net/net, do not pay.

It's fun to poke the hornets' nest, isn't it?

The county with the absolute worst record for wasting federal health dollars is in Texas.

If you don't like paying federal taxes, you need to pick one of the following to toss overboard:

Social Security
Medicare and Medicaid
National Defense
Debt service

Those four items are, IIRC, about 2/3 of the federal budget.

Personally, I'm OK with a federal model for social services. If you don't want to help your folks, so be it. It'll save me money.

Don't know how we can ditch debt service. Wish I did; It is certainly going to be going up in the years to come.

Personally, I'm NOT ok with a federal model for social services. I can't find any enumerated power basis for it, and I don't think the federal government ought to be doing things it has no constitutional grant of authority to do. I do understand, though, that a lot of people take more of a, "Constitution? We don't need no stinking constitution!" approach to such matters.

"Don't know how we can ditch debt service."

We can't.

"Personally, I'm NOT ok with a federal model for social services."

For "federal" in my comment, read "delegated to the states". As opposed to "the federal government will do it".

I believe this is the Buy Your Own Goddamn Stop Signs argument.

I would do a phased shutdown of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and Education and turn total responsibility for services in any of these areas to the states without any made up constitutional requirement from the Feds that every state must provide or offer some type of equivalent services. People would then have something that still resembles a choice about what kind of control and intervention in their lives they are willing to tolerate.

And, as a bonus, within two generations, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, most of Georgia and several other states would be populated entirely by Morlocks. Impoverished, uneducated Morlocks, but Morlocks nonetheless.

"I believe this is the Buy Your Own Goddamn Stop Signs argument."

If the alternative is to continue to listen to people complain about how the federal government is forcing them to install stop signs that I end up paying for, I'm not agin' letting folks Buy Their Own Goddamn Stop Signs. Or not, whatever their preference is.

"People would then have something that still resembles a choice about what kind of control and intervention in their lives they are willing to tolerate."

This would, really and truly, be something I could live with.

If you really want the freedom to live without the safety net, far be it from me to stop you. Especially if the alternative is for me to pay for it, and for you to b*tch at me about it.

Fly free as a bird. Enjoy the ride.

So, if you don't let the Federal government be your nanny, you morph into a Morlock.

"Don't know how we can ditch debt service."

I do. Privatize the national debt :)

The national debt is owed by the nation, which is you and me and our 300 million closest friends. Let's split the check. Divvy up the "national" debt into 300 million individual debts. That would give individual Americans the choice to keep paying interest only (which is their sole "choice" now) or "tax" themselves a bit more to pay down their own, privatized balance. Note that "debt service" would no longer be an item in the federal budget under this modest proposal. We could therefore cut federal taxes about 8% across the board. If you're the "average" American, your tax savings would exactly cover your own individual interest payments.

Naturally, we would have to decide how to split the check. Who should owe how much, to start with? A straight per-capita division would not fly: both the vast majority of Americans (who would owe about $40K each) and the bondholders would oppose it. But any sort of progressive allocation would be anathema to the privatize-everything crowd.

So we're stuck: "we" ran up a $12-trillion tab, and now "we" have to service it. Not even the most rugged of individualists is willing to privatize the national debt. We are all collectivists around here.

--TP

No, when you want to do dumb things like teach your science students about "Intelligent Design" (also known as "Creationism") while other states teach them things like biology, geology and history, don't be surprised if you end up with a lot of people who can't quite make ends meet.

It's amazing how, when confronted with actual injustice in the world, people can stand there and stamp their little feet and cry like little babies, "But the Big Brother Nanny government forces our children to go to school and we don't even get a choice in the matter!"

GoodOleBoy, do you honestly sit around all day fretting about how few choices you have in life? Really?

"My own view, however, is that the American public doesn’t really understand the full implications of “small government” ideology"

My view is that something on the order of 60% of people really really really don't want their taxes raised. Something like 60% of people really really really want the government to do more.

This makes the approximately 10% of crazy people who think they can get both the swing voters.

Unfortunately the easiest compromises among those groups involve raising benefits and putting the cost of it into debt to be worried about later.

"when you want to do dumb things like teach your science students about "Intelligent Design" (also known as "Creationism") while other states teach them things like biology, geology and history"

My personal favorite was the attempt by Edwin Goodwin to have the state of Indiana redefine the value of pi. The new value would be 3, or 3.2, or 4, depending on I'm not sure what. This was in 1897.

Passed the Indiana House of Representatives 67-0. It was apparently killed in the Senate.

Good times.

Phil, your thoughts would be funny if they weren't so pitiable. We live in a country that stands for individual freedom, but individuals are only free to do things that aren't dumb, and Phil and the nanny state are the arbiters of what is and is not dumb.

Nothing in the view I have expressed regarding restoring these aspects of government to the state and local areas restricts the citizens of those states and localities from going as far as they would like in emulating the federal model we've grown up with except their budget. We have a number of states that are as populace as a number of countries in the world so they are certainly big enough to develop and implement social programs to meet the needs of their citizens.

We are where we are because all branches of the federal government have tended in the same direction supporting decisions to move programs away from states to Washington. Federal politicians act this way to preserve their individual self-interest and state politicians too often go along because it is in their self-interest, short term at least. The few state governors who have tried to avoid more future influence by the feds resulting from accepting strings attached stimulus funds have been roundly criticized by those who think all wisdom comes from Washington.

"We live in a country that stands for individual freedom,"

Dorthy, you are soooo cute.

I hope you never have to grow up.

Phil, your thoughts would be funny if they weren't so pitiable.

So wait, is that a "yes" or a "no?"

Dorthy, not so much. Bertrand de Born is more my kind of guy.

Sebastian, the compromise works for those who want the government to do more since the debt will either be monetized resulting in higher than desirable inflation or taxes will be raised. Some of us can work against the inflation but higher tax is hard to beat.

People-small government people-always want a government just big enough to support the government services that they like. Anything beyond that is the "big government" that's not realy needed.

"Bertrand de Born is more my kind of guy."

LOL.

"I tell you that I find no such savor in eating butter and sleeping, as when I hear cried "On them!" and from both sides hear horses neighing through their head-guards, and hear shouted "To aid! To aid!" and see the dead with lance truncheons, the pennants still on them, piercing their sides."

Good times.

You'll find de Born in the eigth circle of hell, carrying his head around like a lantern.

I never knew he was a small government guy.

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