Government Reform

What Do Taxpayers Want?

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Ezra Klein notes–with glee–that America's voters don't seem to want to lock their legislatures into hard-to-overcome spending limits, with the defeat of many TABOR ("taxpayer bill of rights") initiatives this week (and the repeal in recent years of some previously passed ones). Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan, call your office.

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  1. They want gun control. Make that “sensible” gun control. That’s what it says here:

    http://www.bradycampaign.org/

    Are we done kidding ourselves now?

  2. Maybe if the legislation were called TAMBOR then Arrested Development fans would have supported it.

  3. Ezra’s wrong. TABOR wasn’t repealed in Colorado — there’s a voter-approved moratorium on it.

  4. The same thing they always want. More spending on more services without higher tax rates.

  5. What’s the Matter With… Everyone Who Doesn’t Agree With Me?

    Posted on November 8, 2006, by Kerry

    Among my favorite post-election op-ed formulae: The “I regret that voters are too stupid to vote correctly”

    Apparently, voters are exactly too stupid to vote correctly. Or maybe it’s just that the last four generations have been indoctrinated by public education to believe that voters have a right to anything they can put to a vote and get 50% + 1 of the populace to vote yes on. And that would certainly indicate a reluctance to tie the hands of the pols who dip into the feedbag on our behalf.

    It also is meaningful to consider that those who rely on the public teat are at least equal in numbers to the rest of the populace who provide the milk.

  6. B.P.:

    TABOR wasn’t repealed in Colorado — there’s a voter-approved moratorium on it.

    Right, and there are still parts of it that are in effect thru the moratorium. But it still hurts like Hell cuz it took us several elections to get it passed.

  7. More spending on more services without higher tax rates.

    we get that in the private sector…better computers for less price better cell phones for less price and on and on and on…why should we not expect the same from government?

  8. “we get that in the private sector…better computers for less price better cell phones for less price and on and on and on…why should we not expect the same from government?”

    What?

    That is not “we get” in the private sector. In the private sector the individual who get the computers and cells phones at whatever price are the same individuals who have to pay for them.

    What the taxpayers “get” from the government is an ever expanding opportunity to pay for stuff that SOMEBODY ELSE is getting.

    Big difference.

  9. we get that in the private sector…better computers for less price better cell phones for less price and on and on and on…why should we not expect the same from government?

    We’d need to be able to choose a competing government for that. Instead of voting in different people to run the same entity you’d vote for the system you’d prefer to live under and all the laws would change accordingly.

    Actually, I kind of like that idea. The laws that people can tolerate would be pretty consistent and offered by most governments, and the laws that don’t would be retooled or jettisoned in the next cycle.

  10. Joshua Corning: I went to pick up a package at the US Post Office today and thought about how my experience would differ if the package were shipped UPS instead. The USPS is proof that US government services (even those in the market) are laughable. They don’t evolve and there is little incentive to do so. That said, I took your post to mean “the American way is innovate to get more for less, and the American government should operate under the same system” though it isn’t able to. That’s what my crystal ball says.

  11. It also is meaningful to consider that those who rely on the public teat are at least equal in numbers to the rest of the populace who provide the milk.

    Which is why the rich must get richer, especially the top .01%. As the number of people supplying the milk shrinks, and the number of people on the dole expands, the wealthier the top earners have to be. Simple math.

  12. I’ve got news for Ezra, those ‘hard to overcome’ spending limits are phantastically easy to overcome by wiley politicians. All it took in Washington was the declaration of a budget ’emergency’. Sure enough, every budget year has been declared an emergency.

  13. Initiatives to limit state and local spending may well be our most potent way to advance individual libery. In the sates where spending limitation messures lost in this year’s election, they are worth trying again and again, and in other states as well.

  14. Maybe voters are rejecting state spending caps because enough voters somehow intuit that combined with other spending and taxation measures buzzing around, it’s part of a package that makes any and all government impossible to sustain, and voters by and large don’t really want to live under anarcho-capitalism. Maybe if state spending caps were the only thing out there, they would be more palatable. Instead, they’re part of a broader set of initiatives that taken together don’t appeal to most Americans.

    Here in Florida, we’re contending with a wave of state-level initiatives to cut county and local taxes, usually in the form of property-tax abatements and caps. Combine that with state-level spending caps, state-level tax cuts, and federal cuts on spending towards the sort of programs best handled at the very state or local levels that are being stripped of their abaility to tax or spend, it amounts to “starve the beast” policymaking intended to do nothing but make responsible fiscal policy and effective government of any kind impossible from above.

    I realize this result — the collapse of all government above the village council level — is the grand dream around here, but the top-down approach — using federal power to limit state spending and taxation while simultaneously using state power to limit local spending and taxation, and condoning federal deficit spending that amounts to deferred taxation with interest — goes against the bottom-up philosophy of limited government that I thought underpinned this whole libertarian thing.

    Am I missing something, or is libertarian advocacy of top-down starve-the-beast policy that shrinks government by crippling it at lower levels via edicts from above a matter of ends justifying the philosophically troubling means?

  15. Lamar. You’ve either got to be kidding or you live in some upside-down world where UPS offers good service, or you leave it to someone else to pick up your UPS parcels that have to be picked up at a depot. If you’d said FedEx, I wouldn’t really be able to argue, but these days, the average US Post Office location is cleaner, better-organized, better-equipped, more efficient and has more courteous staff than any UPS depot I’ve been to in years, and friends I’ve talked to about this seem to agree.

    I can’t imagine a marketing campaign that would bolster support for the continued existence of the US Postal Service better than one that proposes replacing it with something like UPS. Put some people on TV advocating that, and I’ll bet you’d have massive spontaneous rallies across the country in support of the post office. People would spill into the streets to shower their neighborhood letter carrier with flowers, trinkets and kisses. It would be bigger than V-E day.

  16. SMK, I understand your dismay with the UPS counter at the local Staples store, but those people are employees of Staples not UPS.

    I have, hands down, the best letter carrier on earth. But one is a lonely number and she can’t carry the entire postal service to victory by herself.

    For example, when the USPS brings me an $18.00 overnight letter, it is generally a day late and the guy sits at my gate blowing his horn. He won’t even get out of the car so I can sign for it. If i don’t hear the horn, he takes it back to the post office.

    OTOH, the UPS guy hops out, runs to the front door, pets the dog, rings the bell, asks how I’m doing, and it is always there by 10:30 in the morning.

    I have noticed an marked improvement in service at the post office in the last 10 years, which proves that even the limited competition UPS and Fed-Ex provide works.

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