Monday, June 11, 2012

More on Enough

"Sovereign credit cards also have credit limits, however, as events on trading floors and in election booths since 2009 have reminded us. Perhaps—the question will be settled in markets and elections in coming years—tax cuts do starve the beast, but only after we've approached the point where borrowing can no longer make up for the revenue not generated by taxes politicians are afraid to raise. Conservatives can take hope on this point from Matthew Yglesias's gloomy prediction that by ruling out tax increases on anyone making less than $250,000, Obama and the Democrats have made 'something approximating Ryanism inevitable.'

"Conservatives could help their cause and their country by following Congressman Ryan's lead in making clear that their goal is not to starve the beast, which implies it will die, but to come up with a diet that reconciles the welfare state's genuine needs to the food supply's limits. The historical data, some of it presented in Never Enough, show that as nations prosper their welfare states have always expanded. It's plausible for democratic electorates to decide that economic growth gives a society the leeway to direct a portion of its additional income into public programs while the rest is consumed or invested privately.

"Though the alternative path has hardly ever been taken, it is equally plausible. A democracy could conclude that a growing economy means that a welfare state with a clearly defined mission, as opposed to one where the goal posts are constantly receding as we move toward them, can be financed by spending a decreasing portion of the nation's increasing wealth. This is exactly the approach we have taken with defense spending. ..."
--William Voegeli, Enough Already