Let’s identify all the budget busters

When times are tight, families and businesses seek ways to adapt by cutting out unnecessary expenditures. They’re said to trim the fat, tighten their belts, downsize, etc. Invariably there plenty of former expenses that can be done without or at least trimmed.

Media are happy to provide helpful suggestions to families in this situation. Take, for instance, today’s “5 On Your Side” story from WRAL, “Identifying budget busters“:

A lot of people have a tough time budgeting. It’s easy to blow thousands — a few budget busting dollars at a time.

Here are some budget busters that many people could trim in their daily lives [a list follows] …

But what about government? When is the last time you’ve seen a report in the media actually cheering a reduction in government spending, let alone offering to help? Have you ever seen one?

I cannot remember a single one. When the economy sours, the message from the media aligns perfectly with that of government budget makers: Government cannot, must not suffer. Why, government has no fat to trim and never does — every governmental expenditure is absolutely necessary and vital to the health of the society, even expenditures that were just added in the last year (see, they just became vital this year). Families and businesses must find a way to deal with tough times, but let government revenues decline and government spending fall? Never! After all, people are suffering! If anything, government spending should increase to help them!

This is what my colleague Joseph Coletti calls North Carolina’s spend-and-tax cycle. He’s shown how the General Assembly has, in good times, raised spending to new heights, and in economic downturns justified new tax increases by crying woe to the state if any of that new spending is curtailed. And just as they refuse to take back the new spending when the downturn hits, when it’s over they don’t take back the tax increases, either.

To paraphrase WRAL, A lot of people have a tough time budgeting. It’s easy to blow hundreds of millions — a few million budget-busting dollars at a time —when you know you can bust taxpayers’ budgets a little more next time to make up for it.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

Reader Comments