# The Economist: Americans still want lower taxes, but don't want to cut anything.

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BTW, the VP makes more than $200k. Cheney's salary was$221,100 in 2008 [/Quote]

swansont; Since you like 'nit-picking' comments...I may be wrong, but I've been led to believe Chaney took office in January 2001 and received less than $200,000 and had been being paid millions by Haliburton. How more accurately, could I have put it... Effective Jan. 1, 2001, the salary of the president of the United States was increased to$390,000 per year including a $50,000 expense account. Any unused amount of the$50,000 expense account is returned to the Treasury.

The salary of the vice president also increased to $186,300, up from$175,400.

as printed in the Congressional Record, December 15, 2000 (Vol. 146, No. 155). [/Quote]

iNow; Cute, but you realize Libertarians concern themselves with Federal Government authority over the States a prime concern, not necessarily City, County or State Government, whom regulate your local Fire Department.

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iNow; Cute, but you realize Libertarians concern themselves with Federal Government authority over the States a prime concern, not necessarily City, County or State Government, whom regulate your local Fire Department.

That's interesting. It sounds like a compromise, and it sounds a bit more like anti-federalism than libertarianism, or perhaps just the reactionary politics of the moment.

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I tend to agree with Pangloss on this one. Libertarians are against government, in general, not specifically federal government. For that reason, they'd ALSO be against state, city, county, or other local government providing fire protection services, and Jackson's criticism is really moot since it relates more to anti-federalists than to libertarians.

Either way, the graphic above brought me a chuckle so I figured I'd share.

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That's interesting. It sounds like a compromise, and it sounds a bit more like anti-federalism than libertarianism, or perhaps just the reactionary politics of the moment. [/Quote]

I don't think, Libertarians are opposed to local services, or even the States is cases of emergency, rather oppose the Federal, in what's clearly none the Federals Business.

Actually they are advocates for the individuals rights, which States may come in conflict with them, drug laws, personal behavior and the like, at least the way I understand their ideology, which personally is a little too far right. By the way neither were the Federalist or Anti, opposed to States Rights, just the intrusion into them, being different limits.

Yeah, iNow the 'cute' was intended, got a kick out it myself....

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Libertarians are against government, in general, not specifically federal government.

I entirely agree so long as the capital L was intentional

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I tend to agree with Pangloss on this one. Libertarians are against government, in general, not specifically federal government. For that reason, they'd ALSO be against state, city, county, or other local government providing fire protection services, and Jackson's criticism is really moot since it relates more to anti-federalists than to libertarians.

Either way, the graphic above brought me a chuckle so I figured I'd share.

I don't believe that's true at all. Most modern libertarians are classical liberals - the founder's philosophy (as Stossel discovers, minus Judge Napolitano apparently). They created a federal government, after lessons learned. Government does some things well, that only government can do.

There's a laundry list of responsibilities we really like government doing at the local level that still doesn't approach a fraction of the kind of insult to individual rights that extends beyond that title. I'm not sure fire services would be excluded if you polled modern libertarians.

And anti-federalist is a great cousin to libertarians and I've often wondered why we all aren't anti-federalists that direct our efforts to politically diverse state utopias.

Oh and the graphic is funny as hell. I'm printing it and putting it up in my cubicle. Thanks.

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How about cutting spending on all those pet projects congress has funneled into their bills?

That would be a nice start.

Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

Example: Bridge to nowhere

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How about cutting spending on all those pet projects congress has funneled into their bills?

That would be a nice start.

That would be a meager start. While pork barrel spending is indeed ugly, getting rid of every bit of it won't make a dent in the budget.

Not a good example, for two reasons.

1. There is no Bridge to Nowhere. That was one earmark that was canceled.
2. The cancelation of that project did not affect the budget one iota. All that money still went to Alaska, just not to that silly project.

The latter reason indicates part of the problem with thinking that eliminating earmarks will solve our budgetary woes. A lot of those earmarks are just specific allocations of monies that would already have been spent. The problem with earmarks isn't so much a budgetary issue as it is a wasted effort issue.

An even bigger problem is that Federal pork barrel spending is a much, much smaller problem than most people think. The Citizens Against Government Waste come out with an annual list of what they consider to be pork barrel spending. For FY2009 they identified 10,160 projects with a total cost of $19.6 billion (source). That sounds like a lot of money. That is a lot of money, but as a fraction of the federal it is miniscule. That$19.6 billion is a paltry 0.63% of the $3.107 trillion (source) FY09 federal spending budget. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites ... While pork barrel spending is indeed ugly, getting rid of every bit of it won't make a dent in the budget... Perhaps a serious discussion here of what is meant by pork would be appropriate, granted that you provided a legitimate source with a definition. Some people would say that social security (one of FDR's pet projects) is pork as it will benefit only a small segment of the US population (those currently over the age of 50 or so). Social security is not at all insignificant... But considering that I, and everyone under age 50 or so, will almost certainly receive back very considerably less in social security benefits than I pay in, at some point the question of why do we have this program at all will be seriously asked. And to be honest, I really don't know which is worse (and I'm going to exagerate a bit here), screwing the elderly by leaving them destitute or screwing the young by stealing their money...but the way we are currently heading will result in both. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Perhaps a serious discussion here of what is meant by pork would be appropriate, granted that you provided a legitimate source with a definition. I suggest: spending with the primary purpose of bringing money into a particular locality, for the benefit of only its residents, or especially a special interest subset of residents. Edited by Sisyphus ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I suggest: spending with the primary purpose of bringing money into a particular locality. Would not a particular segment of society (such as the African-American community, Hispanics, the young, seniors, etc.) be similar? Consider that national political parties (such as the democrats or republicans) would obviously not be restricted to any particular locality regarding where the money is spent. Social security is primarily spent on a particular segment of society, the elderly and therefore I contend it could be considered pork. A politican cannot overlook the votes from the seniors... Now I'm sure the motivations are more than just to garner votes, and that in a sense even national defense could probably be considered pork... ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites The latter reason indicates part of the problem with thinking that eliminating earmarks will solve our budgetary woes. A lot of those earmarks are just specific allocations of monies that would already have been spent. The problem with earmarks isn't so much a budgetary issue as it is a wasted effort issue. Exactly. Ron Paul got in trouble for this, because he wants to eliminate ear marks yet feels he's ripping his constituency off if he doesn't participate in them while it's standard practice - he knows that refusing to ear mark anything doesn't reduce revenue or the tax burden in his district, rather it just ensures his district's money goes to someone else. One must do ear marks to keep money in the area - at least in theory, that is until the whole method is eliminated. Perhaps a serious discussion here of what is meant by pork would be appropriate, granted that you provided a legitimate source with a definition. Some people would say that social security (one of FDR's pet projects) is pork as it will benefit only a small segment of the US population (those currently over the age of 50 or so). Social security is not at all insignificant... The first question I have is...do we have a better result now that we have social security? What kind of problems did we have before that, and has that improved enough to justify the program? And we must be careful not to confuse the benefits of social security with the benefits of pensions, 401K's and other retirement programs that have evolved and improved with time. The fact my grandmother lived off of her pension, and social security essentially paid for groceries only, I'm not so convinced those SS taxes couldn't have been put to better use in a private retirement account. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I suggest: spending with the primary purpose of bringing money into a particular locality, for the benefit of only its residents, or especially a special interest subset of residents. I'll add to that money spent by an administrator so as not to appear to need less money/to protect his budget. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I suggest: spending with the primary purpose of bringing money into a particular locality, for the benefit of only its residents, or especially a special interest subset of residents. Of course that violates the general welfare clause too. Even by the supreme court's extremely liberal view of general welfare it still requires it to be "general" and not local. I'm sure they've found a way to rationalize it as "general" somehow, as it is left to the discretion of congress to qualify legislation as general welfare in first place. Merged post follows: Consecutive posts merged I'll add to that money spent by an administrator so as not to appear to need less money/to protect his budget. Yes. Excellent addition. My school district actually asks the residents here - all of us, no matter our financial situation - to apply for lunch assistance for our kids. The more approved lunch assistance we have, the more money the district gets in other areas too, according to their little flyer. Go ahead and look up the Blue Springs school district in Missouri. We don't need the money, trust me. We have excellent schools with plenty of technology and they tax the hell out of us for it. We even have a brand new fancy building full of adults (only) to handle the handful of schools in our district. And that's still not enough? It's essentially immoral for us to claim we need "lunch assistance" thereby steering funds away from other school districts that really, really need it. Disgusts the hell out of me. It's pork. For sure. Edited by ParanoiA Consecutive posts merged. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Would not a particular segment of society (such as the African-American community, Hispanics, the young, seniors, etc.) be similar? Consider that national political parties (such as the democrats or republicans) would obviously not be restricted to any particular locality regarding where the money is spent. Social security is primarily spent on a particular segment of society, the elderly and therefore I contend it could be considered pork. A politican cannot overlook the votes from the seniors... Now I'm sure the motivations are more than just to garner votes, and that in a sense even national defense could probably be considered pork... I don't think so, no. Under that definition, absolutely everything could be considered pork, and it becomes meaningless. The purpose of pork is to enrich a politician's constituency at the expense of the collective whole. The elderly do not have their own congressmen. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I don't think so, no. Under that definition, absolutely everything could be considered pork, and it becomes meaningless. The purpose of pork is to enrich a politician's constituency at the expense of the collective whole. The elderly do not have their own congressmen. So then what is the difference between enriching a specific politicians constituency politician and the constituency of a specific political party? Either one could be at the expense of the collective whole? Social security in its current form gives those over 60ish money from those under 40ish. National defense on the other hand, simply protects all citizens in the US. Now don't misunderstand, I'm not suggesting social security is necessarily pork...just trying to figure out what is, and isn't pork spending. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites The fact my grandmother lived off of her pension, and social security essentially paid for groceries only, I'm not so convinced those SS taxes couldn't have been put to better use in a private retirement account. What would "lived off" have been like without groceries (or the extra money from the pension to pay for groceries)? Your grandmother may have been a better money manager than most, but would she have used that tax money for retirement if it hadn't been mandatory? We Americans do poorly with very small sums of money and very large sums of money, on average. We'll pay$20 for two small drinks and a tub of popcorn at the theater. And believe it or not, many people get insurance proceeds to replace a car or a roof that's been totaled and they freak out at having $15,000 in their hands, so they use it for other things - and then cry when the roof they didn't replace leaks and the insurance company denies their$50,000 claim for water damage. And many do poorly when it comes to balancing immediate needs with long-range savings, especially when the range is 20-30 years down the line.

If social security were privatized, how many would squawk if it were made mandatory? I wouldn't trust the first couple of generations of taxpayers to handle their own retirement if it weren't.

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So then what is the difference between enriching a specific politicians constituency politician and the constituency of a specific political party? Either one could be at the expense of the collective whole?

Social security in its current form gives those over 60ish money from those under 40ish. National defense on the other hand, simply protects all citizens in the US.

Now don't misunderstand, I'm not suggesting social security is necessarily pork...just trying to figure out what is, and isn't pork spending.

Right, social security only benefits people over 60, public education only benefits those under 18, the fire department only benefits those whose homes catch on fire, etc. But none of those things are pork, regardless of whether they're a good idea.

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Social security in its current form gives those over 60ish money from those under 40ish.
You don't see a benefit to all to have 60ish people who've worked all their lives be somewhat independent after retirement? Do you see a detriment to all if they weren't?
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Of course I see the benefit to social security and to education. But proponents of pork can point to benefits also. The bridge to nowhere would have been very nice for the handful of people who used it. Where is that line between a useful program and pork?

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Of course I see the [collective] benefit to social security and to education. But proponents of pork can point to benefits also. The bridge to nowhere would have been very nice for the handful of people who used it. Where is that line between a useful program and pork?

Emphasis mine. I don't get why that isn't a coherent definition.

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...I don't get why that isn't a coherent definition.

Ok. So something that benefits only a handful of people is pork. Something that benefits everyone is not pork. At what percentage of the population does a pork project become not pork? 51%? 33%? 0.01%?

Probably someone will bring in the collective cost associated with such percentages...in other words, maybe I don't mind 0.01% of the population getting a benefit if it costs me $0.0000000000000001, but maybe it bothers me if it costs me$1000. Or maybe not, depending on what specifically it is. I'm really pointing out that one person's pork is another persons necessary program, it is subjective and cannot be easily defined.

The original post asked where to cut spending? I would suggest we look instead at what NOT to cut first and break things listed there (in post # 1) up into three groups:

1) What functions are absolutely necessary by the government? These I will contend are by definition not pork and cannot be eliminated. Maybe reduced, but we still need them.

My list would be National Defense, Basic Scientific Research, possibly Foreign Aid.

2) What functions are not necessary by the government - but are either more cost-effective or more efficient when run by the federal government than run by the states or private enterprises? These I will also contend are not pork as the benefits outweigh the costs to society as a whole. Possibly these programs can be cut, but should not be eliminated.

My list would include Transportation, Mass Transit.

3) What functions are not necessary by the government nor are more cost effective or efficient than either the states or private enterprise? I would suggest that these programs be cut drastically if not eliminated outright given the current budget deficit. Should the budget deficit shrink due to either an economic recovery or budget cuts, then we can consider refunding these programs.

My list would include agriculture (basic research excepted) and housing.

I'm not sure where to rank social security, medicare, unemployment benefits and some others. Social security CAN, without a doubt, be done more efficiently by private individuals, but that does not mean it WILL be done more efficiently. Likewise with medicare, unemployment benefits, etc. Also, these programs provide a benefit which may outweight their costs...

Where would others rank these items? Other thoughts?

Edited by SH3RL0CK
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Not percentage. Constituency. A program that only benefits California but benefits everyone who lives there would be pork. A national program that only ends up benefitting 12 people would not be. Pork would be something that only the one congressman (or senators) would have a reason to support, but gets in exchange for other favors.

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George Will's column in the Washington Post on Thursday offered what could be seen as a different perspective on this problem of not knowing what to cut -- cut almost everything.

For evidence Will offers New Jersey's new Republican governor Chris Christie, who inherited a multi-billion-dollar deficit when he was overwhelmingly voted in over Democrat John Corzine last fall, but also some of the highest-taxed constituents in the country. Previous administrations raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years. New Jersey citizens pay a top income tax rate of 9% (on top of Federal income tax), versus Pennsylvania's 3%. (Actually this government PDF says it's 10.75%, and third-highest in the country, but maybe Will has a different source.) And property taxes have increased 70% in the last 10 years.

So, what, they should be taxed more? Yeah right. But the budget still has to be balanced. So what does Christie do? He accepts 375 of 378 cost-cutting suggestions and in EIGHT WEEKS he knocks \$13 billion off the balance sheet. And he's just getting started.

THAT's change I can believe in.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/21/AR2010042104451.html

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It's interesting to consider that if the US federal Government were reduced to a minor interstate regulatory function and provider of national defense that the states would then be left to pick up the Federal slack on a state by state basis. It's not like social services would stop being provided... we would just pay the bulk of our taxes to the states rather than the Federal Government and the states would provide the services their residents wanted. This would mean far more power being given to the states... which is how it was at the founding.

It reminds me of the joke that was being told upon the forming of the United States, when Virginia was the real power among the original colonies: "Poor George didn't receive the Virginia Governorship and had to settle for President instead."

Ironically, from someone who despises the European social welfare systems, the EU itself is a good example of what the Federal Government used to be. The EU government has a very small regulatory role and "states" are left to managing their own social programs and defense.

My standard joke with liberal friends, when they wax poetic about the European Social Safety nets, is to ask if we can have the decentralized government they have as well.

Edited by jryan

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