Which piece of big government are you against?
If you’re against big government, it’s time to be specific.
You can see the budget pie chart at
Wikipedia. Over the next decades, remember that Social Security
and especially Medicare become ever-larger slices of the pie.
As an against-big-government activist, how many of the following will you
have the integrity to advocate dropping:
- 21%: Social Security
- 16.6%: Defense
- 13.3%: Medicare
- 11.2%: Unemployment Insurance and Welfare
- 9.0%: Interest Payments
- 7.2%: Medicaid and SCHIP
- 5.0%: War on Terror
Total of the above: 83.3%
Everything else is rounding error in terms of cost, though
important in terms of impact (education, highways, court system,
national parks, bailouts, etc.)
There are two options here.
Option One: You are in favor of eliminating or deeply
cutting several of the Big Items in the list above: Social Security,
Defense, Medicare/Medicaid, or Unemployment Insurance.
If you believe we should eliminate Social Security, Medicare,
Defense, and other stuff with 60-80%-plus public support then I
respect your argument and your integrity, but let’s face it, you
probably aren’t a politician facing re-election, and you’re advocating
something that’s not going to happen soon.
Option Two: You are not against “big government”; you are in
favor of “let’s trim 10-20% off the government while leaving it pretty
big” or something like that.
If you really mean “let’s trim 10-20%” can we please stop being so
melodramatic? As I’ve whined before, moving government size, or tax
brackets, by a few percent is not the difference between capitalism
- Libertarian: government should be 5% of its current size.
- Socialist: government should be 200% of its current size.
- Republicans and Democrats judged by actions not rhetoric:
government should be 105% of whatever it just was. Disagreement on
where the new 5% goes.
Politicians are obligated to be in favor of cutting taxes while
raising spending, because the public in the aggregate is in favor of
that impossibility. Ridiculous, right? But if you oppose the vague
abstraction of “big government” without bringing up which of the big
programs you’re wanting to cut, you’re part of the problem.
There are only 7 areas accounting for 83.3% of the budget. Should be
pretty easy to pick one and encourage cutting it as a concrete path to
meaningful government-ectomy. It’s time to get specific.
(This post was originally found at http://log.ometer.com/2009-09.html#12)