Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why Nebraskans... WHY?!? Initiative 423 was awesome...

To all my idiotic friends from Nebraska (you will know who you are…):

Why in all holy hell would you have voted AGAINST a proposed state constitutional amendment like Initiative 423?

The initiative sought to change the Nebraska state constitution so that instead of allowing politicians to simply decide how much money they’d spend regardless of all those inconvenient economic factors like revenue, they would move to a specific, rule-based budget procedure where the spending couldn’t exceed a percentage of the GDP – thus also tying the state spending habits to the natural rate of economic inflation.

You (certain) Nebraskans rejected this… I can only assume because you simply do not firmly grasp the nature of government nor do you grasp basic economics (the two seem to always go hand in hand).

Do you not get it? Government is funded by tax dollars. These come from your own pockets. As it stands now, and apparently will continue to stand, your government can spend as much as they want (i.e. “discretionary spending”) and they will “afford” this one of two ways, A. give you a higher tax bill or B. borrow money. You might have noticed our Federal government doing both regularly.

Now… You had a chance to build in at least some type of guarantee that the state of Nebraska couldn’t spend entirely recklessly and maybe, just maybe, you could have curbed your state’s government from getting as out of control as many of the other states I’ve lived (New York, California, Oregon…)

What is so damn hard about this people? You PAY for the government. This means if the government pays for something to give to you, it’s taking from you first to get it. Since people need to get paid for their work, government does everything at a loss. If you give the government 100 dollars a paycheck to save for your retirement, even if the system worked perfectly (which it doesn’t at all, as we know) then you’d only see a fraction of what you put in because they need to pay for administrators and accountants and everything else. If you just put 100 dollars a paycheck into a mattress, you’d come out much better.

As an added bonus, government paying for things that they shouldn’t be paying for creates false inequalities in the market place that skew the concept of risk. For example, college is now most often paid for through government loans… this has had two negative, but never discussed, consequences: First, it’s made the demand for college artificially high – thus resulting in the devaluation of college degrees. Where once a bachelors was a remarkable accomplishment it is now commonplace and a masters degree is even losing its luster – also resulting in grade inflation, but that’s another topic. And second, it’s partly caused the rise in tuition costs. Since government pays for it, the demand has increased faster than colleges can necessarily keep up, so they’ve had to deal with increasing costs not only in teachers and classrooms/materials budgets, but also in recruiting – but also, since government pays for it, they don’t really have to be truly competitive. Your tuition doesn’t really pay professor salaries in a lot of cases… the taxpayers already do that… But apparently you’re not looking at the larger picture… so getting back to the topic at hand:

A lid on state spending that was tied to GDP and inflation could have been the best possible thing to keep your state functioning and your budgets balanced for years into the future. Instead, you’ve acted with only your short term interests in mind and think that capping spending will mean less “free” money to you and your friends. Less free money for college, less to your schools, less to whatever else you think government should be giving you. You’re also wrong about that. The budget is already set for your precious social programs and everything else you’ve come to expect given to you through forcing others to pay for it… if the budget is tied to inflation, then it means that those things will grow as you do rather than stagnate or skyrocket as they do now.

I am frankly kind of embarrassed that so many of you weren’t smart enough to see the benefits of what you rejected. Did you even read the wording of the legislation? If it was an important issue, like natural disaster relief, you could have allowed the legislature to authorize over-limit spending via a special vote. This would have kept more power in your own hands… but congratulations – you’ve both given up your decision making authority as citizens and given the state legislature carte blanch to waste whatever of your money they feel like now – obviously, you’re not even going to try and stop them).


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