Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Personal Asides: The Blagojevich Tax Hike…The Bad News for Republicans Doesn’t Seem to Fire Up Urgency.


Tax Hike.

For those who believe that the era of substantive discussions have passed us by, I can merely cite Sunday’s “Political Shootout” between Ron Gidwitz and John Filan as an example of courteous, well-informed, deep-rooted discussion that presented both sides of the Governor’s tax hike issue. Someone asked me if the two participants came loaded down with statistics. The answer is no—both men were superbly equipped to discuss the state’s fiscal problems by drawing down figures from their memories. The fact that all ten phone lines were buzzing shows that content-filled discussions are not just for so-called public radio but can be provided by commercial talk-radio as well.

Earlier last week I was chided by a number of correspondents to this web-site for not taking a position on the Governor’s tax program. Reason: I really wanted to wait until these two admirably schooled experts spent the hour debating the issue. Because you know me as a conservative who doubts the efficacy of government in many areas, you will not be surprised to know that I am opposed to the program…which requires the expenditure of a record $60.1 billion requiring the biggest tax hike and borrowing spree in state history…to phase out the corporate income tax and replace it with a Gross Receipts Tax on business for a net revenue gain of $6 billion…in addition to a $1 billion payroll taxes, constituting together the largest tax increase in state history. With the huge amount of borrowing that has had to be done to meet prior obligations, I think the governor risks driving us all into penury with a mountain of expenses and debt—all to achieve a humanitarian’s political image after which passage he will be gone: either to other worlds to conquer or to take a comfortable berth in the private sector.

The governor’s plan is based on the need for more money to fund services. This is wrong. With respect to education, the choice sacred cow, the blatant cry of more money for education is illusory and based on the outstretched palms and shouts for more largesse from the public teachers’ unions. The fact that the Democrats are owned by many special interests which gobble up money is clear that they cannot be counted upon to solve any state fiscal problem. Reason: they don’t see the world as it really is. The problem centers on their mistaken view of wealth which impacts on everything—taxes, education, health care. The world as it really is is contained in this analogy from Paul Zane Pilzer’s book Unlimited Wealth. It pertains to education as well as private wealth. First, imagine an island with a population of ten people. Each of the individuals, in order to survive, must go fishing each day and each catch two fish. Thus the island has a gross domestic product of 20 fish per day.

Suppose two of the island’s inhabitants decide to risk starvation and instead of being predictable workers i.e. bureaucrats, take time from fishing to (a) invent a boat and (b) a net. The island now has the potential to improve its living standards. The two inhabitants do this and are then able to catch twenty fish a day or ten each. What has happened is that there is an incredible jump in fishing productivity with two people now producing what it took all ten people to catch before. Now what is the reaction to the other inhabitants? Two options. The inhabitants can (1) ignore the productivity gains and continue to live on the two fish each person can catch. If this happens, the two inventive producers can take time off from work, enjoy leisure and live the good life. Or, the inhabitants can (2) produce different goods (raise fruits, vegetables and grains and delve into services: boat fixing and fish cleaning).

They can then trade these goods and services for the excess fish the two entrepreneurs catch. If they choose (2) the GDP of the island will rise and wealth will increase; each of the island’s inhabitants will now have a daily income of two fish in addition to whatever else the island learns how to produce. With a high output, the inhabitants will be able to store and save, enabling themselves to weather bad times and allowing other inhabitants to invent new goods and services. This is how wealth is created. But the government mentality can not be found here. The government mentality will concentrate on the two fish each person can catch. If suddenly the island is invaded by liberals and the mass-media, a cry will go up that there should be some subsidy to assist those fishermen who can only catch two fish a day. The media would immediately focus on the victimization of people relying on a fish diet.

Then when the two inhabitants want to take time off to invent a boat and net, liberals would proclaim that they are interfering with the commonweal and are selfishly interested only in benefiting for themselves and not the community of fishermen. This same analogy can be used for education. We want more state funds for an education that is ineptly run by too many time-servers in the grip of a reactionary union. The illiteracy rates, poor reading rates tell the story. But the media—the engine of advocacy spawned by liberal academe—seemingly can not learn. None so blind are those who will not see.

The governor’s budget is based the island’s inhabitants producing two fish a day and worrying about penalizing those who have the incentive to seek new ways and new sources of wealth. The budget is fastened on securing more government-sponsored health and educational opportunities without examining any other options. Liberals ask: If not the gross-receipts tax what tax? The answer is to examine the huge waste that has gone into the system so far…to recommend cut-backs and abolition of useless departments…to urge new ways to improve health care and education…to improvise vouchers for education and for health care and to cut—not raise--taxes. Above all, while it is difficult in view of the class-warfare media, there is no need to worry that some of those “aren’t paying their share.” This is not the rule of the smaller pie; it should be the rule of the greater incentives.

What this lesson tells us is that liberalism is in fact a short-sighted ideology that is floated by vacant-minded advocacy alone from academe and the mindless media and not by reason. What the governor should be proposing is cutting back the enormously wasteful expenditures endemic in all government and then proposing a tax cut and alternative private solutions such as vouchers. Not to become imbued with political vision-making and posturing while at the helm of a state which is nearing bankruptcy. The editorial pages understand the folly but so rooted in conventional wisdom are they that they cannot budge except by improvising fine-tuning. The liberal mind-set reigns when the liberal mind-set has produced the chaos we are in.

No Sense of GOP Urgency.

Increasingly the political news brings bad news for Republicans but I don’t really think the Republicans recognize it. They are mulling over who is the right presidential candidate as if conservatism were here in its hey-day and the Democrats were stuck with Mike Dukakis. “Let’s see, we would like the managerial qualities of Romney but he has had a period of heresy to our ideology.” “We would like the military heroism of McCain but he has practiced heresy on tax cuts and campaign financing.” “We would like the independence and popularity of Giuliani but he has been married three times and while he has said he would name a Scalia or Roberts or Alito to the Court, we don’t like his stand on guns even though he has said New York city’s needs are not the nation’s. Gee, can we trust him? Also he’s pro-abort and that bothers us.” Good night! Vote for Ron Paul and be done with it and see what that gets you.

First, what in the name of God are Republicans thinking about? Do they recognize the terribly bad news that is swamping the GOP or not? President Bush’s disapproval record is at an all-time low, a cloud that has to depress the future for any GOP presidential candidate. I remember Hoover and Landon and a generation that rolled by as young people grew old and old people died without any respite from the New Deal. The RCP average today has Bush at 33.7% approval with a whopping 59.7% disapproval. That is the worst I’ve seen a Republican president since the era of Herbert Hoover. There’s a deluge coming, people! Get with it!

Second, while they’re nitpicking over the candidates…this one has freckles, this one is too old, this one is a Mormon, this one lost his temper with me…the Democrats are coming perilously close to winning and starting a cycle of Democratic presidencies that may last a generation. What in the name of God are Republicans thinking about in nitpicking as they have been doing?

Third, one Republican candidate—and only one—is ahead of all the Democrats: Giuliani. But, no, he’s no good on embryonic stem-cells; he has had three wives. Listen to me: can you feature Obama dealing with terrorists…or Putin… or anybody else? Can you feature Hillary and who she would appoint to the courts? There is such a thing as survival in this political manual, is there not? Hey, this guy Brownback is great—great on embryonic stem cells, only been married once. But he’s not even a blip on the radar screen, people! Fred Thompson was lazy in the Senate so we can scrub him. Get with the program! If you want to win, you should swallow hard and make do with someone who at the very least has promised to name strict-constructionist judges to the Court and to stand up to the terrorists. Really, at the age of 78 I have never seen the Republican so-called “conservative leaders” so all-powerfully stupid as they are now. The game should be to be pragmatic now—and keep the White House. Strange that I have to remind you. I sometimes think you’ve taken leave of your senses.

I haven’t decided on Giuliani officially yet—but I’ll tell you this. I would prefer any one of ours to the so-called “best” of theirs. Even one of ours who isn’t perfect, has freckles and is imperfect. Wake up and smell the coffee, conservatives! I really think you prefer to be cast out in the dessert for forty years rather than win. Well if that’s what you wish, pick up your walking staff and head out there but don’t come crying back at the village gate when President Barack Obama sits composing a poem to the swaying of the romantic media while the buildings are blowing up. Give me a break.

And don’t any of you write and say I should have applied this logic to the governorship and supported Topinka. That’s an entirely different proposition so don’t be duplicitous with me. She would have foreclosed any possibility of change for the Republican party of Illinois. She was running for governor not president. I just say that to spare any of you from wasting your time on that irreconcilable rationale such as one of you writes by the name of Louis. Or don’t tell me that since we’re in the Iraq War we should go the paleo route and retreat to Fortress America ala Pat Buchanan. We’ve had one President Buchanan who like his namesake vowed to do nothing and allowed events to crest in a Civil War. All we need is isolationism internationally and protectionism at home to spark a real depression.

In summary: for heaven’s sake, conservatives, grow up…grow up…and be pragmatic for once in your lives, will you—and resolve to win!


  1. Amen, Tom:

    Well said! Hilary is already prosmising socialized medicine putting a lot more of private enterprise right under the Federal Government. They will decide who gets the health care and who does not. Not good and 20 years of liberal socialism will kill our great land.

  2. Tom, you are doing exactly what the liberal Cafeteria Catholics did. Giulani is an uncompromising supporter of what we "authenticist" Catholics have said is a non-negotiable, abortion, not to mention his positions on homosexuality etc. Guns at least is a prudential matter--good Catholics can disagree about gun control as a policy matter. But on abortion there can be no parsing. Yet you do it with Giuliani. I don't get it, Tom.

    The "lesser of two evils" as a tactic is exactly what has landed us in a situation where today's "center" is impossibly far off-the-charts-left of where it was 50 years ago. Each time we held our noses and voted for the lesser of two evils, we moved the center a bit to the left.

    Why, so early in the process, dismiss Thompson? You've been beating the drums for Rudy for nine months now. You started with a condition: that he "convert" on abortion. When he made it crystal clear that he will not do that, instead of sticking to your condition (which is a non-negotiable for a faithful Catholic), you are now using a "he's the only one who can win" argument.

    Tom, that's a path to disaster. And don't call me a purist who won't compromise. Strategically, looking over the past 30 years, the path of choosing the less unsatisfactory candidate has now led to the point where the Reagan Republicans have all but abandoned the pro-life stance. If you compromise what we have for years insisted to liberal Catholics was absolutely, non-compromisable, non-negotiable (we said, you cannot vote for a pro-abort Democrat no matter how good his "other" policies are), we have just stooped to the "seamless garment" Bernardinism of the Left, only with issues from the Right.

    Would it hurt, Tom, to remain on the sidelines to see what develops with some of the minor or not-yet-declared but pro-life candidates? How can you live with yourself if you use your public persona to give whatever shove you are capable of to Giuliani, which will have the opposite effect on the pro-life "small fry"? Would it hurt just to calm down and back off for a few months?

  3. As much as I love ye Tom, Dennis Martin has a position that can't be wiggled around. Old Nick runs this world, but in the next it is THE MAN who will select his people that stand up for what is right.