Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Fiscal responsibility" can be irresponsible

"Fiscal responsibility" is one of the current buzzwords in politics and is one of the core beliefs of The Tea Party Patriots.  The Tea Party Patriot statement on this is rather amorphous with phrases like "freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of their own labor" and "high levels of taxation".

But was the money the fruit of their own labor free of any infra-structure, like roads, education, police and fire protection?  A high level of taxation is a relative term.  What is high in simple times to fill the treasury of the king can be too low in a complex times to provide all the services that individuals need to be fully productive.

The users of "fiscal responsibility" and "living within its means" are conspicuously silent about these same terms applied to corporations.  Some very large corporations have more debt than they have shareholder capital.  If corporations were to live within their means, why do airlines raise fares when the price of fuel goes up or food processors cut the size of their packages when the price of agricultural goods goes up?

If government were to "live within its means", can you imagine calling the fire department and getting the answer, "Sorry, we can't come any more this month; our diesel budget has run out."  I'm sorry, but if corporations can raise their prices without even consulting their customers, why can't government raise its taxes when the prices of goods goes up?

If we're going to talk about "fiscal responsibility", let's be specific about what is truly fiscally irresponsible.  Do we really need a second engine manufacturer for an already overly expensive fighter plane?  Do we really need "a bridge to nowhere".

The sad reality is that there are petulant people in Congress who think their constituents need these projects and they won't vote for projects for constituents of other members of Congress unless the latter vote for their projects.  Pork to one is bacon to another.  And what newspaper doesn't praise its local member of Congress for "bringing home the bacon"?

The sad reality is if only ten percent of the populace are for a project, thirty percent don't care, and sixty percent are opposed to the project, then many of the ten percent will be very vocal in support, and few of the others will even say anything.