You may have heard that our former friends at the Cato Institute (just kidding, Ed) have gushed over Big Bill’s tax cutting and spending restraint. According to Cato’s report card for the governors, “Bill Richardson is, bar none, the best new Democratic governor in the nation–for that matter, he is one of the best new governors of any party.”
But Cato is wrong. The Guv is a net tax increaser and his spending has far exceeded the rate of inflation plus population growth. How did they get it wrong?
On the spending side they used bad data (National Association of State Budget Officers). If you would like to see the truth look here. And the general fund budget is going to grow as least another 6.7% in Fiscal Year 2006. Some spending restraint!
On the tax side they completely missed the stealth increase in the gross receipts tax rate. They also missed other tax and fee increases.
Why is our tax and spend governor getting a free pass from the media and now from one of the best think tanks on the planet?
Today from Chuck Muth: “Despite unanimous support in the state House for dumping President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law – and likely passage in the Senate – Utah’s Gov. Jon Huntsman bowed to pressure from the White House and delayed action on the bill for another month…during a special session to be called just to address this issue. Uncle Sam really knows how to twist arms and break legs when he wants to. And Utah taxpayers will pick up the tab for the unnecessary special session.
At the heart of the matter is the simple principle that the federal government should be strictly limited and the states should be responsible for matters such as education. What’s amazing, under the circumstances, is this comment yesterday from federal Education Czar Margaret Spellings: ‘Ultimately, education decisions are made at the local level, and that’s how it should be.'”
But consider what was said 10 days ago. Are you surprised?
Did you see John’s thoughtful opinion piece in Friday’s Albuquerque Journal (subscription)? “The Valle Vidal is a beautiful section of the Carson National Forest. Substantial natural gas production is being obtained from the adjacent and possibly more beautiful Vermejo Park Ranch. It is believed similar production could be obtained from Valle Vidal.”
Why is it that production, such as drilling for oil or gas, seems easily to coexist with “environmental” uses of land in some cases but not in others? The answer lies in who owns the land. When it is owned privately, its owner has incentive to evaluate production-environmental trade offs. The owner does not want to take excessive risk that the land might be spoiled. The owner simply wants to make best use of the land for its value in the enjoyment of natural beauty, its value in energy production and the threat to its value from environmental harm.
When land is owned by the government, however, these tradeoffs are politicized. Environmental interest groups such as the Sierra Club seem totally unwilling to consider alternative uses or magnitude of risk from environmental harm. These same groups permit production on land when they actually own it.
If you are interested in how ownership incentives improve the natural beauty and enjoyment of land while permitting alternative uses and improving the environment look here or here. Look here for an innovative public land management idea being tried in the Land of Enchantment!
“Things that can’t go on forever, won’t.” Unfortunately, the Guv wants more of the same: “‘We’re talking about people (being hurt by the cuts),’ Richardson said at a news conference at the National Press Club. ‘We’re talking about human beings who are the most vulnerable.'”
I wish he would think about the perverse incentives of Medicaid. Why can’t we give these human beings incentive to help themselves? Why does he insist on such inefficient government intervention?
They just don’t get it. Why do they think “the siren song of collectivist solutions” is going to make things better? There is no empirical evidence either specifically (for example, here or here) or generally to support them. Their wandingerous arguments mainly consist of flippant remarks and personal insults.
I think Milton Friedman best sums up John’s points (subscription) in Capitalism and Freedom:
“…conditions have changed. We now have several decades of experience with government intervention. It is no longer necessary to compare the market as it actually operates and government intervention as it ideally might operate. We can compare the actual to the actual. If we do so, it is clear that the difference between the actual operation of the market and its ideal operation – great though it undoubtedly is – is as nothing compared to the difference between the actual effects of government intervention and their intended effects.”
—Milton Friedman, 1962
Whether it be light rail, pre-K or all the other past and current interventions of government, why do they think the actual effects are going to be anywhere near their indended effects. Aren’t they just engaging in wishful thinking?
Thanks to Walter Williams:
“After the first three years — that is to say, beginning in 1940 — you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. … Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. … And finally, beginning in 1949, 12 years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. … That is the most you will ever pay.”
– 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security