Let’s Raise Taxes!
Paul Krugman bravely continues his counter-offensive against the assault on government. Here he talks about what the current environmental disaster in the Gulf and Katrina have in common. His answer: they both reveal the dangerous deterioration in government competence, the inevitable result of cuts in taxes and cuts in government and, one might add, the addition of layer upon layer of bureaucracy that makes action ever slower and more costly. And of course those who led the assault complain most loudly about government’s failures as further justification for more cuts and constraints.
And now deficits created by tax cuts and stimulus spending are the latest reason for more cuts in taxes and in government. Those who pretend that these cuts have no consequences on the quality and quantity of services we receive often talk about the need for greater efficiency and for ending government waste and, of course, no one can disagree. Every organization must constantly seek to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Interesting that our Auditor General criticizes governments for failing to invest in, for example, the technology upgrades and new technologies that might actually yield greater efficiency. In any case, the constant talk about government inefficiency far exceeds the concrete examples and numbers to make the case. To be sure, anti-government forces always do have some example of a “silly expense” – some strangely titled research program or some travel expense – but these examples are only rarely as silly as they seem and, in any case, never add up to anything even close to the spending reductions promised or needed. Most government spending goes to transfers to people for such things as pensions or child benefits or welfare and for essential services such as health and education and for vital infrastructure. Indeed, even with the stimulus, we have not closed the infrastructure gap. And the demographic crunch will stretch already stretched services to breaking.
Yet the solution to everything stubbornly remains cuts, less taxes, less government, less services. Politicians – right, left, centre – refuse to tell us that we will have to pay more in taxes or even to confront us with the hard choices.
Nonetheless, there are signs that the winds may be changing or that at least a light tax breeze may be blowing or maybe it’s just my wishful thinking but, for example, I for one will be watching Steve Paikin’s The Agenda tonight as his guests debate the tax question.