Monday, April 06, 2009

Why The Government Never Shrinks

Sen. DeMint has a great piece at the American Spectator about the politics of earmarks. This is at the heart of spending and part of what this tea party thing is about:

Take any bill in Congress that impinges on a sector of our economy or on individual liberty itself, and you will find it festooned with earmarks to assuage the concerns of congressmen and senators otherwise unwilling to accept the slow creep of collectivism.

If a proposed bill is 20 percent over budget and thus falls 10 votes shy of passage, congressional leaders are faced with a choice. On one hand, they can cut the bill’s spending by 20 percent. On the other hand, they can increase spending by another percentage point or two to specifically fund projects in the home districts of those 10 recalcitrant members. If they cut spending, the leaders would risk alienating members already comfortable with the size of the bill. If they increase spending with a few earmarks, the only people who will be upset are cranky skin-flints (like me) who were probably voting against the thing anyway.

Which tactic do you think Republican and Democrat leaders tend to employ? There is a reason bipartisan compromises never seem to shrink government. Advocates of earmarks say they represent a fraction of the cost of underlying bills. But like crack cocaine, earmarks create problems disproportionate to their size.

Some love to argue that this spending "creates jobs." But that simply isn't true:

The great lie at the heart of earmarking is that the projects funded create jobs at all. Take the $1.8 million earmark just passed—as part of a $410 billion spending bill—that funds research into pig odor (no, seriously). Its author argues that the study will, in fact, create jobs for the researchers conducting the project. But the problem is that $1.8 million will have to be first taxed out of the economy before it is redirected to any pig farms.

That $1.8 million, if left in the hands of the businesses and families who earned it, could build new homes for several young families, create dozens of jobs for small businesses, or develop new products and services for innovative entrepreneurs to market. In Washington, politicians talk as if federal money is free—it just appears, like magic. But of course, federal spending must come from somewhere in the private sector. Every job the government "creates" is funded through the elimination of a job (or two) in the private sector.

This is why the spending will never work:

That's why the biggest threat to our economy is not corporate greed—which is restrained by both law enforcement and market competition—but political greed, which is encouraged and even rewarded by our political system. Thus Americans are told that the only thing that can save us is a $1 trillion government spending "stimulus" bill that the Congressional Budget Office reports will be a long-term detriment to our economy. Meanwhile, the policies hidden behind the price tag make us less free, less competitive, and more dependent on a federal bureaucracy only too eager to control more and more of the economy.

The media has been focused lately on the greed of AIG big wigs, but in reality their greed in NO WAY compares to the greed of our politicians. It's time we recognized that and did something about it.

Tea Party. Be there.