It Ain’t Just Democrats

And the foolish reliance on the moral core of politicians doesn’t end with reliance on Democrats. Here’s the conclusion of Steve H. Hanke and Stephen J.K. Walters’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the costs of socialism:

It is foolish to hope that the Democratic Party will join in reversing this trend any time soon. As it has moved left, it has embraced ever more deceptive prices for reforms to government services, labor (Fight for $15!), health care, higher ed, housing and much else.

This is a cynical strategy, and it creates a dangerous political feedback loop. First, progressive thinking leads to bigger, debt-financed government. But debt-financed government, and the lying prices it embodies, also can lead to more progressive thinking. Absent honest signals about government’s full costs, more voters are likely to shrug and assume it’s a good buy.

The late economist William Niskanendocumented the relationship between deficits and spending, showing that attempts to “starve the beast” of big government via tax cuts don’t work: As tax receipts decrease, spending rises. In his words, “a tolerance for deficits leads to increased government spending.” Polls confirm this trend. Since 2011 the proportion of voters who worry “a great deal” about federal spending and deficits has fallen from 64% to 51%, while the national debt has risen 45%.

Before such tolerance for debt and a concomitant fondness for “freebies” afflicts a majority of the electorate, it would be wise for the party of Lincoln to seize the political, fiscal and moral high ground, steer clear of lying prices, and rebrand: Goodbye, Grand Old Party, and hello “Honest Abe Party.” Attempting to out-lie the Democrats is, in the long run, unlikely to be successful politically, and certain to be disastrous economically.

In trying to appeal to a moral core in the Republican Party leadership they are relying on something that does not exist.

3 comments… add one
  • steve

    Nice. I have always been a bit agnostic about the actual size of the government. What I do believe is that we should pay for the government that we want and use that pricing mechanism to help determine if we truly value what we are getting. We keep getting these tax cuts and having revenue drop, but no cutback on services. That tis because Republicans don’t want to take the political hit of reducing services. This is their way of handing out free stuff, and it builds up our debt. Democrats are the party of tax and spend. Their hands aren’t clean here either, but they at least occasionally pay for stuff by providing a tax base to pay for new programs. At any rate, it is too much about just stating in power.

    Steve

  • I have always been a bit agnostic about the actual size of the government.

    I think bigness in anything creates problems: companies, labor unions, and governments. Yes, there are economies of scale but my experience has been that those are fully realized much earlier in the game than most people think and that the cost of these organizations grows exponentially with their size. It’s not just the federal government. I think that Illinois is too big. I think that Cook County is too big. I think that Chicago is too big.

    Those are the reasons I believe in limited government and why I believe in small government. I also believe in smaller jurisdictions. That belief is coupled with the belief that we should be breaking big companies up.

  • sam

    Yeah, well good luck with that. As long as the acquisition of wealth is America’s lodestar, you’re stuck with the fevered city.

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