Funding Government by the Minute
Published on Mar 28, 2012
At the rate the federal government spends, it runs out of money on July 31. What programs should be cut to balance the budget and fund the government for the remaining five months of the year? Cutting NASA might buy two days; cutting the Navy could buy fifteen. It seems that balancing the budget may require more than just cutting government programs. What should be done?
I see that I’m quoted in Annie Lowrey’s New York Times Magazine story, “Washington’s Economic Boom, Financed by You”:
David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, told me: “Washington’s economy is based on the confiscation and transfer of wealth produced elsewhere. Out in the country they’re growing food, building cars and designing software — all these things that raise our standard of living. Here in Washington, everyone is writing memos to each other about how to take some of that money and which special interest should get it.” I asked him if he liked living in the city, which has become undeniably nicer. Boaz sputtered a bit. “I can’t walk to lunch from my office without having to avoid the construction projects!” he said. “For Washington, it does mean better restaurants and better entertainment, and the potholes get filled faster. But for the country as a whole? I don’t think it’s a good thing for America.”
I’m confident I didn’t sputter, but otherwise this sounds right. I’ve been writing about the wealth of the Washington area and where it comes from for years.
In 2005 I wrote about – yes – the construction projects that block my way to lunch in a “big-government building boom.”
In 2006 I leaned on Waymon and Willie to offer some advice to parents:
Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,
Don’t let ’em make software and sell people trucks,
Make ’em be bureaucrats and fed’rals and such.
Here are a few other links to discussions of Washington’s wealth, starting with the most recent news:
I focused on why money flows to Washington way back in 1983 in the Wall Street Journal:
Business people know that you have to invest to make money. Businesses invest in factories, labor, research and development, marketing, and all the other processes that bring goods to consumers and, they hope, lead to profits. They also invest in political processes that may yield profits.
If more money can be made by investing in Washington than by drilling another oil well, money will be spent there.
Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek explained the process 40 years ago in his prophetic book The Road to Serfdom: “As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power.”
As the size and power of government increase, we can expect more of society’s resources to be directed toward influencing government.
And all of this relates to an idea I discussed in Libertarianism: A Primer:
Libertarians developed a pre-Marxist class analysis that divided society into two basic classes: those who produced wealth and those who took it by force from others. Thomas Paine, for instance, wrote, “There are two distinct classes of men in the nation, those who pay taxes, and those who receive and live upon the taxes.” Similarly, Jefferson wrote in 1824, “We have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a New Class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers.
Sheldon Richman has more on this libertarian class analysis that focused on “conflict between producers, no matter their station, and the parasitic political classes, both inside and outside the formal state,” or “between the tax-payers and tax-eaters.”
President Obama plays Santa Claus but you played for the presents!!!
During previous Christmas seasons, I’ve shared some holiday humor.
- This video showing how the North Pole would function if Obama had control.
- A tragic story of Santa Claus getting arrested by the IRS.
- Another video, this one featuring Santa Claus griping about government red tape.
- The perfect present if you have any Timmy Geithner fans in your family.
This year, let’s enjoy a bunch of good cartoons.
Lisa Benson start our list, with this recognition of Time’s Man of the year. It’s so nice of the President to give away other’s people’s money.
And since Obama’s currently threatening to take the nation over the fiscal cliff unless he gets some class warfare tax policy, this Lisa Benson holiday cartoon from last year is worth sharing as well.
The second cartoon has the same theme.
The magnificent Chuck Asay offers this gem, with a message similar to one he produced earlier this year.
Asay also did a Christmas-themed cartoon last year.
Jerry Holbert provides this funny – but not so funny if you think about it – cartoon.
Here’s a good one from Glenn McCoy. This cartoon is a pretty good summary of how politics really works.
P.S. Here’s a bonus section. I can’t resist being a proud dad and sharing this family photo. It was taken while we had a meal break during some Christmas shopping.
Not a bad brood, if I can offer an unbiased assessment.