When Will We Stop Starving The Beast?

Republicans from Reagan to Palin have advocated starving the beast, which means cutting tax revenues to induce a deficit so that government spending has (in this theory) has to drop. But obviously, that doesn't work because we can just borrow money indefinitely and run up a huge national debt, which is what we have done.

But more perniciously, starving the beast encourages over-spending. This policy discouples spending and cost, with predictable results. If we can buy a war now without paying for it now, and in fact enjoy a tax cut at the same time, then we will over-consume wars. But if we had to raise taxes to pay for invasions, our zeal for war would drop.

But why not a balanced budget amendment? Well, there are times when running a debt is necessary such as during a recession. But maybe we should put a CARD Act disclaimer on our tax returns: "making only minimum payments will cost X and take 100 years to pay back."

In short, raising taxes will make consumers of government largesse (such as NASA states, builders of bridges to nowhere, and Medicaid zealots) realize they are also tax payers who are on the hook for these services.


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