Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pragmatic Effective Government

Taxes - curse or necessity? Is the government just stealing the common man's money, or are taxes "the price we pay for a civilized society"? Is government the problem, or is it the solution. The answer to all these questions is "both." And, the problem with all these questions is the word "or." Clearly, there are no absolutes in questions like government, and that's why I am unaffiliated, having been a registered Republican and a registered Democrat. Now, I am looking for some common sense answers to common problems, and I've realized that pragmatism is the key. P.J. O'Rourke was fond of saying that Republicans campaign on the idea that government can't work, and when they get elected, they prove it. At the very least, I know a reasonably large government is a necessity, so I'd hope to elect the most efficient people to run it.

In terms of taxes, I've concluded that I'm neither for nor against taxes on principle. As part of the "educated electorate" that Jefferson envisioned, I know I must look at each tax individually and weigh its merits. There is a clear wisdom to the idea that more money left in the private sector is a boon to the economy. There is also a logic to an individual, or individual communities, knowing how to best spend his/her/their own money. However, voters must also understand that individuals don't build highways or aircraft carriers and those things cost a lot of money.

The key to effective government is leadership, and when the government is not working as it should, we can do nothing but blame whoever is in charge. Our best leaders have always been the most pragmatic. For example, tax hikes might have been anathema to conservatives, but Ronald Reagan raised them four times between 1982 and 1986. When Bill Clinton proposed tax increases in 1993, conservatives swore he'd wreck the economy. Instead, the economy responded with the largest economic expansion in history. Currently, the nation is $9 trillion in debt, and there's no way to argue that's good. At this point, I'm looking for a pragmatic group of people who can simply solve the problems.

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