Cut, cut, cut, no end in sight

Conservatives love to cut government, with no particular reason in mind, just because cuts are so easy to sell to people. The real goal of government cuts is not to reduce the effects of power in people’s lives, but to transfer it from one place to another. Some people just want to have control over the lives of others. Instead of a centralized government where ones citizens deal with a single set of rules and regulations, conservatives want a patchwork of rules, laws, regulations that effectively make peoples lives vastly more complex.

It does not matter whether Washington imposes a rule, or your local homeowners association makes a rule, it still affects your life. The difference is that at a local level, bureaucrats can be far more malevolent than a bureaucrat far away can be. Home Owners Associations can force you out of your home, impose huge legal costs on homeowners, impose petty fees, decide how many statues or what kind of tree you can have on your property. There is no dictatorship like a little despot.

Florida’s Constitutional Amendment 3 will restrict the states ability to collect revenue for essential services, placing an artificial cap on revenues, ostensibly to prevent runaway spending by the state. It is considered a self-imposed restraint on government growth.

Conservatives are again unwilling to deal with the realities of governing a modern state. There are a number of reasons that government will grow organically. Populations in almost every state are going to grow for the foreseeable future with more immigration, as more children are born, and as people age and live longer. That will not change.

The greater the population growth, the higher the costs are going to be to provide essential services for those people. Capping revenue will only restrict the states ability to cater to that increased population, increase school class size, increase the pressure on security services, increase traffic on congested highways, and increase the wait times for drivers licenses, or vehicle registrations. Revenue and expenditure has to increase over time to cater for the increases in population, and the increase in costs as a result of inflation.

Increases in income must also be a crucial part of the formula for calculating state revenues and expenditure. As people’s income increases, they can afford to provide more services to the people of the state. Instead of cutting rates, it must be realized that those people have an obligation to provide children’s services, services to those that have little ability to increase their own income and yet provide services to the wealthy. The wealthy have an obligation to the people of the state, to ensure that no one goes without essential services.

In poor economic conditions, the state must take up the slack imposed by corporations and provide more of a safety net for people who are affected for the most part through no fault of their own. A job deficit cannot be blamed on the unemployed, but on those that are supposed to create jobs, and often don’t. Revenue from those that have the ability to pay must be increased during tough economic conditions.

Cutting back on services when times are tough just imposes an additional unnecessary burden on those that have little control over economic conditions. The wealthy can afford to weather those tough times and should be asked to contribute more to the society that supports them.

The proposed amendment in Florida would reduce allowable revenues 26 percent below pre-recession levels (2006-2007), producing dramatic cuts in services at a time when families are already suffering. This will result in huge job losses and severely increased unemployment, placing an additional burden on the people, while the wealthy, most of whom are retired will enjoy the bounty of Florida without paying their fair share. As usual it is the wealthy that is shifting the burden onto the poor.

What will happen if Florda is hit by a natural disaster, a category 4 or 5 hurricane, or a devastating disease among citrus farmers, a massive outbreak of bird flu, or flooding that causes massive disruptions to electric grids and roads? This amendment will restrict the states ability to collect revenue. People could be left destitute, without homes, electricity, food, and essential medical services.

These cuts to the state budget would result in devastating cuts to infrastructure, to programs that cater to seniors, to schools and colleges. It would make it far more difficult for students to enter college and make a better life for themselves.

There is nothing in this amendment that would ensure that politicians in Tallahassee would not continue to spend taxpayers funds on questionable projects and boondoggles that would do nothing useful for the people of the state.

This is really a failure of imagination, a desertion of the states obligation to its citizens. The reason that we have nations and states is to provide a common framework for tackling serious problems that can strike at any time. If the people cannot rely on the state for protection from natural disaster, or economic disaster, why bother to have a state. We should dismantle the state and live in isolated communities. This is how societies and civilizations ultimately self-destruct, and it is always conservative policies that lead us down that road.

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