Mother Government Is Our Provider and Our Caregiver
An op-ed by Amy Blouin of the Missouri Budget Project has been making the rounds. Combest linked to it in the St. Joseph News-Press a few weeks ago, and the St. Louis Business Journal ran it last Friday, although we can’t link to their version. Her op-ed deserves a careful review.
It begins with her driving her children somewhere and them complaining about taxes from the back seat. Really? Is this believable? Young children riding in the back of a car complaining about sales taxes, giving their mom an opportunity to explain the importance of taxation? I don’t buy it, and so I’m calling b/s on the opening premise of the article. (As my infant grows, if he ever out-of-the-blue says to me, "Dad, I look forward to one day receiving a license from the government to work in whatever occupation I choose," thus giving me an opportunity to tell him about the harm occupational licensure does, then I shall retract my call of b/s and offer a full apology.)
She then lists the many important things taxes do:
Taxes pay for the fireman who one day might carry your spouse to safety; the public school teacher who spent extra time teaching your child algebra; the road that transports your business’ products to customers […]
All of these are, of course, completely true. The fun is in what she leaves out. Taxes also pay for the unnecessary city employee who does nothing all day, but is some committeeperson’s brother so they keep him on the payroll. Taxes pay for subsidized giveaways to developers and professional sports teams that don’t need or deserve them. Taxes pay for the transfer programs that are one day going to bankrupt this country. Taxes paid for the welfare state and Great Society that
cured poverty created a cycle of dependency and didn’t reduce poverty rates, despite spending enormous amounts of money.
She then considers the low-tax nature of Missouri:
Missouri is already one of the lowest tax states in the nation, ranking 40-something in nearly every category. As a result, our services have slipped dramatically.
She gives no evidence of which services have slipped, but I have to be fair here op-ed word limits are tight. There are two assumptions that underlie everything she writes. First, that it is the proper role of government to solve every problem and provide every service (health care, poverty, retirement money, cheap higher education, etc.), and second and just as important that the government does a good job in providing these services.
She then gets specific as to the low-tax nature of Missouri, but not as to why this is a problem:
Missouri now ranks 46th lowest for state and local spending per capita; 44th lowest for K-12 education spending; 46th lowest for higher education spending, causing tuition at public universities to skyrocket; and we have one of the lowest eligibility levels for health care for working parents in the nation, resulting in a 15 percent increase in the number of uninsured in the last year alone.
I personally think it is a good thing that we have a strict eligibility level for state-provided health care. That makes it more clear to me that the people who need it the most are the ones receiving it. Just because someone out there may have a need, it does not follow that the government must provide that need. I also fail to see why tuition at our universities can’t rise in order to pay for the eduction of the people who will benefit from it. It is still far lower than the costs at most private universities. As for the rise in the uninsured (at least she gives factual evidence here), there are innovative ways for that to be addressed that don’t involve government benevolence and control.
I could go on, but blog posts like op-eds have size limits or people would just stop reading, which most of you likely already have. She sums up her point with this:
What Missouri leaders should instead focus efforts on is not how to reduce taxes, but how to create a tax structure that is both equitable and adequate to meet our needs.