Government Spending

Did You Double Your Pleasure?

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California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) lays out the grim math of Arnold Schwarzenegger's finances in Investor's Business Daily:

In the past 10 years, under both Republican and Democratic governors, legislative Democrats have presided over a doubling of the California budget, from $72 billion in 1998 to $145 billion. This is double the rate of population and inflation growth, and it is unsustainable.

Much more DeVore-gore here.

I remember back in the heady days of the Gray Davis recall, me and my California pals used to play a game called "Name the tangible services we enjoy in return for a $100 billion state budget." Usually we'd run out of answers after "Uhhh, state parks? That aqueduct thingie?" Since then, Davis' allegedly budget-deficit-busting replacement has signed off on spending increases totalling $45 billion.


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  1. Well obviously, the biggest benefit to the public of California’s massive state payroll is the way it keeps the least productive workers out of private industry, where they could impede the work of smarter people.

    Remember your last visit to the DMV? Now, imagine if one of those people was working where you do, and you had to keep fixing what they screwed up.

    -jcr

  2. Is there a bigger disappointment than Arnold? I guess his ego is bigger than his principles. It was always bigger than his muscles. If he never took any steroids, do you think anybody outside of Graz would have ever heard of him?

  3. Doubling in ten years? If my accounting rule of thumb serves me correct, that’s averaging over 7% annual growth…

    …I know California keeps growing in population, but still, come on… is inflation plus population growth too much to ask for in terms of budgetary restraint?

    (Wait, it’s government… apparently it is too much to ask for)

  4. “I remember back in the heady days of the Gray Davis recall, me and my California pals used to play a game called “Name the tangible services we enjoy in return for a $100 billion state budget.” ”

    That’s the thing with most state governments and the federal government as well. Most of the alleged “services” that big government proponents claim we all are supposed to consider ourselves obligated to pay for are not actual services at all – they are transfer payments. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, farm subsidies, public housing public schools, etc. etc. None of these things are actual services in the sense that those who are getting the product are the same set of people who are paying for it.

  5. “Most of the alleged “services” that big government proponents claim we all are supposed to consider ourselves obligated to pay for are not actual services at all – they are transfer payments.”

    Is that true? You and I pay social security, and we will (in theory) get social security benefits. Other big budget government expenditures that you and I as taxpayers fork over for we benefit from (roads, police, military protection, food regulations, environmental regulations).

    Even with things like welfare and food stamps we benefit in the same way that one benefits from insurance, it will be there IF we ever need it because we are paying for it now.

    I don’t see any excuse for farm subsidies btw.

  6. Just wait a few years and you’ll have that trillion dollar high speed train so you can all get up to Sacramento faster to wave your torches and pitchforks.

  7. “”Name the tangible services we enjoy in return for a $100 billion state budget.” Usually we’d run out of answers after “Uhhh, state parks? That aqueduct thingie?””

    You mean Matt Welch never leaves his home (or has a Byzantine route of privately owned roads by which he travels as per agreements with the owners)? And he lives in his own oxygen tent eschewing the benefit of the enforcement of environmental laws by state agencies? And he eschews governmentally regulated food and instead barters with locals based on a system of mutual trust and self enforcing norms?

    Wow Matt, you da man!

  8. Well obviously, the biggest benefit to the public of California’s massive state payroll is the way it keeps the least productive workers out of private industry,…

    Which explains something about the only job growth in the last several months being in government and education sectors.

  9. California is too big to fail. Time for some bailout, dudes!

  10. Didn’t Matt go to college in the CA state system? Some of the CA budget pays the tuition there you know.

    Don’t get me wrong, Matt’s overall point about the wastefulness and stupidity of the CA government is as usual correct, and Matt is of course one of the best writers on Reason (his book on McCain is really good). But this libertarian thing about “I hate the government what do I get from it” is a bit much.

  11. “Is that true? You and I pay social security, and we will (in theory) get social security benefits.”

    In theory?

    Ha!

    The social security program is nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme.

    It is not a true retirement program where the individual’s contributions are set up in an individually owned account. Instead the money goes for handouts to other people. And the benefit formula is “progressivly” stacked in favor of low income workers. They get a much higher benefit (i.e return on investment) relative to what they pay in than do those higher on the income scale.

    And since the scheme is financially unsustainable as is, the deck will become even more stacked in the future, with payroll tax increases for those on the top end (and no commensurate increase in benefits) and, eventually, means testing regulations that cuts off benefits to upper income people who have paid into the system for years.

    As I said – transfer payments.

  12. If only the fooles above would look
    here for a breakdown of the CA budget.

    Transportation? – 9%
    (Consumer) Regulation? – 1%
    Environmental Protection? – 1%

    Yep. No transfer of wealth here at all. Those who believe otherwise, well you’re “a but much”.

  13. MNG,

    You and I pay social security, and we will (in theory) get social security benefits.

    That is still a transfer payment, actually, two of them. First from you to some old person. Later (in theory) from some young ‘en to you.

    If your money was going into some mandated fund in which you had private property rights to and then you were paid from that fund on retirement, that wouldnt be a transfer payment. It would be a mandated retirement account. That would qualify as a service (an unnecessary one, since IRAs and 401Ks already exist). The way SS actually works, its transfer payments.

  14. MNG,

    You mean Matt Welch never leaves his home (or has a Byzantine route of privately owned roads by which he travels as per agreements with the owners)? And he lives in his own oxygen tent eschewing the benefit of the enforcement of environmental laws by state agencies? And he eschews governmentally regulated food and instead barters with locals based on a system of mutual trust and self enforcing norms?

    Wow Matt, you da man!

    Is that straw I smell burning?

    So my post on the other thread.

  15. Didn’t Matt go to college in the CA state system? Some of the CA budget pays the tuition there you know.

    This is totally true. One year at UC Santa Barbara, and one semester each at Santa Barbara and Long Beach community colleges (where tuitions are especially subsidized, and where I for one got pretty much what I paid for).

    Of course, these were discussions we were having in 2003, not 1987.

    You mean Matt Welch never leaves his home (or has a Byzantine route of privately owned roads by which he travels as per agreements with the owners)?

    There was no evidence that the streets outside my home (when I still lived in California) had seen a dime in government money for decades, unless they had the same pothole-fillers as Romania.

    And he eschews governmentally regulated food and instead barters with locals based on a system of mutual trust and self enforcing norms?

    I dunno, does getting most of your produce from the local farmer’s market count? (Of course, the market was set up by the City of Los Angeles….)

  16. And lets not forget, that currently some SSI taxes are siphoned off for the general fund, and at some point in the future, income taxes will be siphoned off from the general fund to pay SSI benefits.

    Taxes are taxes, people. They are all fungible.

    So, yes, Social Security is a transfer payment. The taxes you pay this year will be transferred this year. Some to Social Security dependents, some to the general fund.

  17. “Even with things like welfare and food stamps we benefit in the same way that one benefits from insurance, it will be there IF we ever need it because we are paying for it now.”

    No one but the transferee derives any benefit from ANY transfer payment.

    NO benefit is provided to the transferor.

    Period.

  18. Turtles | December 22, 2008, 10:14am | #

    If only the fooles above would look
    here for a breakdown of the CA budget.

    Transportation? – 9%
    (Consumer) Regulation? – 1%
    Environmental Protection? – 1%

    Yep. No transfer of wealth here at all. Those who believe otherwise, well you’re “a but much”.

    That’s a useful chart. Let’s look at some of the big numbers:

    Schools (K12 and colleges) are 41.3%
    Prisons are 7.3%

    So, unless you want to cut schools or release prisoners, half the budget is untouchable right there.

  19. So, unless you want to cut schools or release prisoners, half the budget is untouchable right there.

    Wouldn’t necessarily be all that hard, from a practical standpoint, cut a public education budget… just it’s political suicide.

  20. Glibert
    Do you think insurance is a transfer scheme? You and I pay insurance and if I’m lucky enough not to need it some of my premiums will go to pay for your accident. What I get is the knowledge that the safety net is there for me and my kids if needed. And that is a benefit.

    The same with social security, yes it works like you say, but in paying for the system we in theory get a system to which we will draw from as well.

    robc
    I don’t think that is a straw man. Matt and Gilbert were talking about how they got nothing from the government. That nothing is the straw man.

  21. “Do you think insurance is a transfer scheme?”

    No but no one forces me with the threat of jail to buy insurance. I have to pay into Social Security if I want to remain a “free man”

  22. So, unless you want to cut schools or release prisoners, half the budget is untouchable right there.

    Im okay with both of those. Obviously, cant cut the prisons to zero, but once you release all the drug offenders, that should take care of a good bit of it.

    Separation of school and state. That cuts a huge chunk out of that budger.

  23. Safety nets are for pussies.

  24. Lurker
    As people above note the way ss works is you and I pay for some old fart now and then when we are old our kids pay for us. It’s not workable due to free rider problems if we don’t make everyone play. The whole way it works is people are forced to take care of others, this way you will be taken care off too.

  25. robc is right. New England school marms would swarm into California and educate everyone as is their Christian duty. Who needs public education?

  26. MNG,

    See my post in the other thread. Expecting them to not use the services is the straw man. That they cant think of them is beside the point.

    Insurance is voluntary. Manditory transfer payments are a different category.

  27. “Safety nets are for pussies.”

    My, what a rugged individualist you are!

  28. “Do you think insurance is a transfer scheme? You and I pay insurance and if I’m lucky enough not to need it some of my premiums will go to pay for your accident. What I get is the knowledge that the safety net is there for me and my kids if needed. And that is a benefit.”

    What I think is that you can try and spin government programs like social security, welfare and food stamps as “insurance” all you like but it doesn’t make it so.

    The ONLY thing that counts as “insurance” are voluntary, private sector transactions entered into between two parties, each purchasor assesing his own personal need to insure against some specific risk and whether the price asked is worth it and each seller assessing whether and at what price he want’s to assume the risk of another.

  29. MNG,

    CA doesnt have school marms?

    I bet they are much hotter than the NE breed.

    As long as parents want their kids to be educated, there will be people willing to educate them. As for the kids whose parents dont care…well, as long as the kid wants to be educated, he will find a way.

    That said, eliminating public schools wouldnt end manditory schooling.

  30. I saw your point. It missed mine. I’m not saying they are hypocrites for criticizing services they get from the government, I’m refuting the argument that they get no services from the government. Thanks by the way for proving my point by admitting they do get the services (as you said, they paid for em!)

  31. My, what a rugged individualist you are!

    I have insurance to provide me a safety net. My statement is still accurate.

  32. Gilbert
    You do realize that many people under voluntary insurance programs pay money that they will never get back and many other people get back much more than they pay in? It’s OK because the former have the assurance that if they needed what the latter need they can get it.

    That’s the case under welfare and social security too you know. If you qualified for them you would be legally entitled to the benefits.

  33. MNG,

    It’s not workable due to free rider problems if we don’t make everyone play. The whole way it works is people are forced to take care of others, this way you will be taken care off too.

    Wrong! Private accounts would work too. No transfer payments, no free rider problem (whether manditory or optional).

    The question is why should I be forced to take care of others? Why should I allow others to be force to take care of me? Both are evil.

  34. Wouldn’t necessarily be all that hard, from a practical standpoint, cut a public education budget… just it’s political suicide.

    Actually, from a practical standpoint, cutting public education spending in California is illegal. By proposition (and therefore state Constitution), California must spend 40 percent of its annual budget on education.

  35. Insurance is a safety net too. Social security, welfare, etc., are just safety nets that the government administers, and they are kind of like nets below the nets of private insurance (for those who don’t or can’t get it for example).

    So you have a safety net, and always will I imagine. I don’t think you’re a pussy though.

    Peter Gibbons: He’s going to ask me to work on Sunday and I’m going to do it, because I’m a pussy, which is why I work at Initech in the first place.
    Michael Bolton: Hey, I work at Initech and I don’t consider myself a pussy.
    Samir: Yes, I am also not a pussy.

  36. MNG,

    Okay, that failed, attempt 2:

    I’m not saying they are hypocrites for criticizing services they get from the government

    Yes, you are. In the other thread. Im mixing thread replies here, because its basically the same argument.

  37. “It’s not workable due to free rider problems if we don’t make everyone play. The whole way it works is people are forced to take care of others, this way you will be taken care off too.”

    I know how it works, it my point is that your comment about it being like insurance was wrong. YOu are not forced to buy insurance.

    That is NOT how I will be taken care of as it will be broke by the time I get there. The point of this whole thread is that the growth of government is not keeping up with the population, and if you increase taxes to match it you will destroy the economy. The brakes have to be put on is the bottom line. That is the case whether you believe it is the government’s job to take care of you or not.

    For the record I do not believe it is the government’s job to take care of me.

  38. MNG,

    Government transfer payments and Insurance have many similarities, but they are not remotely the same things.

  39. “Private accounts would work too.”

    Oh yeah, that recent plan where people would withdraw and put their savings in the stock market, that would have been so nice right about now!

  40. “The question is why should I be forced to take care of others? Why should I allow others to be force to take care of me?”

    Uhh, because to not do so would be evil?

  41. “Oh yeah, that recent plan where people would withdraw and put their savings in the stock market, that would have been so nice right about now!”

    An even better system would be to let me invest it myself. I too would not trust the government to invest my money.

  42. “Yes, you are. In the other thread.”

    I don’t think so. Cut and paste.

  43. “Government transfer payments and Insurance have many similarities, but they are not remotely the same things.”

    Is their remotness determined by these many similarities you speak of?

  44. Oh yeah, that recent plan where people would withdraw and put their savings in the stock market, that would have been so nice right about now!

    Actually, it would be. Now is a great time to be buying. Dollar cost averaging dude. And yes, if you were retiring right now, you would be taking a late hit. But, after all the growth of the last 40 years, that wouldnt be horrible. However, under the standard rule that you shouldnt have any money invested in the market that you will need in the next 5 years, 5+ years ago those people should have started shifting to bonds and etc.

  45. “An even better system would be to let me invest it myself.”

    Because people who invested their own money in the stock market, they are’nt hurting now either are they?

    And so old farts who withdrew from the program and now needed to pay the rent but their Wachovia stock is worth a third of what they thought and they don’t have it, what happens to them?

    I can tell you what happens to them under the system I prefer. They get taken care of.

  46. Is their remotness determined by these many similarities you speak of?

    Nope, the remoteness is determines by the dissimilarities, that are so dissimilar as to make the similarities meaningless.

  47. Oh, OK robc.

    Cause all I’ve noticed are these similarities so far.

  48. Uhh, because to not do so would be evil?

    You have evil and good backwards. The use of force is evil.

    Taking care of others == good
    Forcing someone to take care of others == evil

    If you dont understand that you are a fucking retard. Or evil yourself.

  49. MNG,

    Cause all I’ve noticed are these similarities so far.

    Maybe you should read other peoples post. Voluntary vs Manditory is a huge fucking difference, you fucktard.

  50. ‘The use of force is evil.”

    That’s certainly not true.

    If you try to rape my wife and I stop you using force, I don’t think I’ve done any evil.

  51. “Because people who invested their own money in the stock market, they are’nt hurting now either are they?”

    See robc’s comments on dollar cost averaging and moving thing to safer investments as you get older. I mean I LOVE that my 401k investments are buying in cheap right now.

    I mean you need to go pick up an econ book. Not trying to be smartass it is just a simple fact that you comments show you have no clue what you are talking about on any of this.

  52. “You do realize that many people under voluntary insurance programs pay money that they will never get back and many other people get back much more than they pay in? It’s OK because the former have the assurance that if they needed what the latter need they can get it.”

    What I realize (and you, apparently do not) is that in the private sector, individuals are free to choose what risks they insure against – or not. Someone who has no car and doesn’t drive does not need car insurance and doesn’t buy it. Someone who does not own a home has no need for homeowners insurance and does not buy it.

    As I said, you can try to spin government programs as “insurance” all you want – it doesn’t make it so.

  53. I believe that MNG has just proclaimed that, if A does not to force B to take care of C, A is evil.

    The audacity of that just rocks.

  54. MNG,

    Because people who invested their own money in the stock market, they are’nt hurting now either are they?

    Nope, doing fine. My growth from the 80s and 90s dwarfs my losses this decade. And I have a good 25+ years to go before I even think about retirement. Plenty of time to buy low now and be rolling in the dough then.

  55. “Voluntary vs Manditory is a huge fucking difference, you fucktard.”

    It’s a difference, but since we are talking about whether they both are transfer payments I’d say it’s not a decisive difference.

  56. And the government ones are voluntary too in the sense that a majority of people vote for them, they are “self-imposed” in that sense.

  57. The audacity evilness of that just rocks.

    FTFY.

  58. MNG,

    Do you know what the word “voluntary” means? How about the phrase “tyranny of the majority”?

  59. The majority of the people supported slavery, so the blacks volunteered to work on those plantations.

  60. “Nope, doing fine.”

    Uhh, you do realize that you may not be the yardstick of the average American on that right now?

  61. MNG,

    If you try to rape my wife and I stop you using force, I don’t think I’ve done any evil.

    Fair enough. The initiation of the use of force is evil.

  62. “I believe that MNG has just proclaimed that, if A does not to force B to take care of C, A is evil.

    The audacity of that just rocks.”

    If we were on an island with a child and the child became ill and you had the only medecine on the island to help the child it would indeed be evil (wrong) of me not to physically take it from you and give it to him.

  63. you do realize that you may not be the yardstick of the average American on that right now?

    Fuck the average american. The average american bought more house than he can afford and ran up more credit card debt than he can handle. The average american is a sucker.

  64. State-mandated gender sensitivity- priceless!

  65. robc

    With programs that benefit society as a whole but for which free rider problems would sink them, then majority consent is as close to voluntary as we can get.

  66. MNG,

    If we were on an island with a child and the child became ill and you had the only medecine on the island to help the child it would indeed be evil (wrong) of me not to physically take it from you and give it to him.

    Wrong.

    It would be evil of me to not give it to the child. It would also be evil for you to take it from me. Then again, maybe Im expecting my child to come down with the same disease (it being contagious and all) and I planned ahead and bought it on the mainland before we came to the island. So, maybe it isnt evil of me to give it to your child after all. Its still evil for you to take it because you didnt plan ahead.

  67. “Fuck the average american.”

    Ahh, now we get to it. I’m the evil one, your the good one, and “fuck the average american” and his/her troubles. That’s how you display your goodness 🙂

  68. And I might add, that it seems to me that all of politics is simply the struggle to become the “A” in my above equation.

  69. MaunderingNannyGoat-

    If we were on an island, and pirates landed, I would sell you and your child to them as slaves.

  70. “It would be evil of me to not give it to the child. It would also be evil for you to take it from me.”

    That’s retarded with all due respect.

    It would be evil to cause you a bit of discomfort to save the child’s life or great discomfort on his part.

    WTF?

  71. With programs that benefit society as a whole

    Fuck society as a whole.

    Im kind of in a pissy mood this morning. Fuck all of you.

  72. Arnold Schwarzenegger **(R)** would have fit right in with congress, 2000 – 2006.

  73. That’s how you display your goodness

    How I display my goodness is none of your business. And isnt the governments either. I handle that privately. I will say that my money goes to people a lot worse off than the average american, who has every thing he needs if he stops being so fucking stupid with his money.

  74. I have to go (hey, where the f*ck is joe, I don’t have the time to do his job!), but robc I anticipate that your idea here is that it would be “wrong” because of some kind of floating around “natural” “right to property” that you think trumps utility.

    And I think that is plain out daft. Property is important to the extent of, and no further, than its furtherance of utility. A moral theory that has such little regard for the actual welfare of people is way out there.

    It’s like Cicero’s: “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall!” That’s no kind of justice.

  75. MNG,

    It would be evil to cause you a bit of discomfort to save the child’s life or great discomfort on his part.

    WTF?

    The ends NEVER (NEVER NEVER NEVER) justify the means. Your means is thru theft. That is evil. Thou shalt not steal is pretty clear to me.

    Choose good means and accept the ends that come. (Nothing wrong, IMO, with choosing amongst the good means to maximize the value of the end state)

  76. It’s like Cicero’s: “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall!” That’s no kind of justice.

    Heh.

    I almost posted that I support the righteous path even if it leads to the destruction of the Earth and all people on it. I agree with Cicero.

  77. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the you.

  78. Not knowing the context, Im not sure if Cicero was agreeing or disagreeing with that quote, so I dont know if I agree with Cicero or not. I agree with the quote.

  79. MNG,

    My immediate family of parents, siblings and their offspring, a rather large brood (Irish Catholics, what can I say?) has received exactly $0.00 in food stamps or public assistance of any form. We would like our money back to set up our own “misfortune” insurance fund. We promise to never ask the government for welfare in return.

    It ain’t insurance, it’s welfare.

  80. I believe in a just government and a kind deity.
    Unfortunatly, it appears that most folks believe the reverse.

  81. All powerful wikipedia shows no connection to Cicero.

    The state supreme courts of GA and TN seem to agree with it though. It looks like I have a lot of legal authorities on my side. Im not sure how well I like that. 🙂

  82. CN,

    I believe in a just government and a kind deity.

    I believe the best we can hope for from our fellow man is justice. The worst thing we could get from God is justice, fortunately I believe he is capable of grace.

    I once graphed it with an asymptote at justice. Man can strive to achieve (but never quite reach) justice. God can do no worse than justice.

  83. “It’s a difference, but since we are talking about whether they both are transfer payments I’d say it’s not a decisive difference.”

    Wrong – it is absolutely a decisive differnce.

  84. “Property is important to the extent of, and no further, than its furtherance of utility.”

    Wrong again.

    You’re batting 0.00 today.

  85. “Fuck the average american.”

    The average american is not all that attractive. No thanks.

  86. MNG shilling for Big Tax again I see. Hitting all the liberal “morals” that are actually immoral. Pretty funny stuff.

  87. You know, with a headline about doubling my pleasure, I had such hopes for the auto-ads on this post.

  88. In the past 10 years, under both Republican and Democratic governors, legislative Democrats have presided over a doubling of the California budget, from $72 billion in 1998 to $145 billion.

    Hey, let’s give the voters of California some props here, too! They’ve voted for dozens of spending initiatives over the years.

  89. Actually, from a practical standpoint, cutting public education spending in California is illegal. By proposition (and therefore state Constitution), California must spend 40 percent of its annual budget on education.

    But it’s given us the most egalitarian educational system in the country, with high graduation rates and a level of student achievement envied by the world!

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