Governmental Fiscal Responsibility

There is a mailing address in Salem which is used by various Political Action Committees; one of these days I'll actually try to find out who is the official address holder. All of their mailings have a certain slant to them. And they do themselves no good mailing stuff to me, because I've come to the point where if I see their address, yes, I read their mailing... and vote entirely against them, every time. The address, by the way, is 3421 Del Webb Ave. NE, Salem, OR 97303.

They'd almost get me to see their way this time, except that the current situation is partially the result of their previous actions. There are a couple of tax measures on the next ballot, and they're against them, and have nice things to say about not raising taxes in bad economic times, and how government should be fiscally responsible.

However, they have been against fiscally responsible government when times were good, so I can't sympathize with them.

Fiscally responsible governments raise taxes when things are going good, and build reserves so that when things are going poorly they can continue providing desperately needed services. Fiscally responsible governments retain revenue surpluses against future revenue shortfalls. Fiscally responsible governments do all the stuff that we expect good, fiscally responsible individuals to do. Buy low, sell high. Set a budget that reflects routinely recurring periodic expenses, like roof repairs and a new paint job, which don't happen every year but which are expensive when they do, and which you know will happen; you set aside money every year towards them so you have the funds when needed. Plan for emergencies; things go wrong, set aside a bit more each month to provide for the truly unexpected expenses.

This isn't new. Take a look in the Bible, fer crying out loud! Pharaoh had these dreams, remember? Joseph interpreted them as foretelling seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, and set up a system whereby that plenty was capitalized, food reserves were build up, and some of the surplus was sold to build up cash reserves, but enough kept that when the famine came they had all they needed, and enough to sell to their neighbors, as well.

A balanced budget is balanced for the long term, not just this week, month, or year. Properly, you should be looking 20, 30 years ahead, all the time, so that the various cycles can be taken into account.

This is a tough sell to the general public, they don't want to hear about long term planning, they want to have their cake and eat it, too. They are disinclined to listen to the voice of experience if it doesn't say what they want to hear. There is a reason our founding fathers set up Congress the way they did, and our fiddling with it has been detrimental to our fiscal well-being. The Senate has two seats per state, because initially those seats were filled by individuals selected not by the state at large, but by the State government, to represent the interests of The State; they were to be our House of Lords, to counter-balance the House of Representatives, our House of Commons. They were given a longer term of office, so they could really buckle down and work on long-term policy. The Senate was to be that voice of experience, given force. But that's water under the bridge, there's no way we'll ever switch back.

But the next time someone starts talking about responsible government, think a moment, or longer, about what a truly responsible government would be doing.

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