Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Journal of smitty_one_each (243267)

Sometimes I back-and-forth on Slashdot's Journals. Maybe because the articles themselves are so poorly chosen. This one (click the title) is about government deficits or something, and someone implied "oh just raise taxes!". (My remarks here have been extended and revised)...

I know people that call themselves "conservative" because they believe in raising taxes however much it takes to eliminate deficit spending. Such people I gather don't know much about how the government's budget process works nor how the funds allocated get sub-allocated within departments.

Conservatives (real ones that is), here there and everywhere increase deficits because it simply isn't possible (politically) for them to go to every department (or even a single one in most cases) and say "Fire half the staff, and auction off their office contents." Oh sweet Jesus if such a thing were only possible! Cutting taxes without reducing spending explicitly is called "starve the beast", and it helps to slow down increases in government spending (which we absurdly consider "inevitable"). Ironically, cutting taxes often results in increased government revenue for at least a while. But that's a topic for another day.

During the Clinton administration the government was closed down for part of a month so that he could engage in a pissing contest with the Republican Congress. Go read up on all the disastrous consequences of that shutdown...

Back yet? The only thing that was a disaster was the the Republicans gave in. Government workers who I spoke with were at first enjoying their free time off. They lost no vacation time and eventually got paid for staying home. But some of them worried that things were going a bit TOO well without them, and indeed it was. "Critical services" were exempt from this political farce, but the building I worked in was near emptied nonetheless. The group I worked in were not on the "critical services" list, but we contractors didn't want to go without pay for the duration (got that?: government workers were paid for staying home, contractors were not, even though it was contractors that mostly did the work while government people stood around and watched) so one of our bosses found a loophole regarding how we were funded (not taxpayers money as it turned out) that allowed us to continue working. In fact we probably got more work done in those few weeks than ever before or since without all the babbling interruptions from our government taskmasters.

Obama claimed during his campaign that he would approach government waste with a scalpel rather than a hatchet. I'm not going to let anyone forget that.

Clinton claims to have balanced the budget not only be increasing taxes again, but by cutting government. What he means by that is that he didn't reverse course on a military base closings plan that was set into motion by his predecessor. God bless him for that. As far as I know that was the last foreign policy decision that Clinton made before launching some cruise missiles somewhere far far away from Monica Lewinski.

Obama will receive a windfall in the form of (once again) savings on our military budget as we withdraw troops from, well pretty much everywhere I hope, and not because I'm an isolationist, or anti-military. I think the world needs to grow up and stop waiting for us to come in and save the day all the time. Let Germany and France become yet again fearful of what Russia (or Iran for that matter) might do to them if they get into a bad mood. In the process we will learn that former military people don't necessarily make good social workers, there are no farm or factory jobs for them to go back to and our police forces are already well supplied with people who think they are occupying a foreign country (hey did you read about that?!).

I'm just dying to see that Obama scalpel at work. I think he'll wish he had promised to use a hatchet after all.

Thomas Sowell in his book "Basic Economics" starts out with this definition of the term:

"Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses."

Every ten or fifteen years we apparently need a refresher course (or at least some people do).

I hear the school bell ringing now.

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