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Re: “We need to do something!”

March 24, 2010

The idea of “we” is an important one. “We” are paying for what “we” the United States is doing. However, there is no such thing as “we,” only a lot of different individuals, all working to take care of themselves and their families.

“We” the taxpayers[*] cannot reduce our tax burden without spending so much time doing so that we would have nothing left to tax.

Politicians cannot cut spending in general without cutting spending in their district. They can’t do that without getting fired. Hopefully, they will get fired for not cutting spending, but we have to recognize that they would have gotten fired had they cut spending.

The “Throw the Bums Out” theory of governance does not get us far. The history of government is less a story of heroes and villains, and more a story of people responding to incentives. The problem here is not that there are a lot of people in congress screwing us over, it’s that our government is a system that incentivizes its own growth without regard to outcomes. The recent health care bill is only a symptom of a much larger problem. The same is true of every other bad piece of legislation. Throwing the bums out is the equivalent of blowing your nose.

“We” do need to do something. But what we need to do is much bigger than merely throwing the bums out. We need to start fixing our political system. We need to ask, “what got us here and how do we get back?” We need to continually ask, “what is the proper role of government?” and we need to be able to explain why.

[*]It should be noted that even if your tax return says you don’t pay taxes, you do. They are capitalized into the price of everything you buy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bhushan permalink
    March 24, 2010 11:28 pm

    Excellent post! Like everything else in the world, the political system needs to evolve and improve too. Politics v2.0 is indeed the starting point.

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