False dichotomies

Virginia Postrel points to an article from the Long Beach Press Telegram showing the false dichotomies presented by modern liberals like Calpundit between government programs and 'vital services'.

"I can accept higher state taxes if it means preserving my police services and educating my children."

We're hearing this, or statements close to it, quite often lately as the state grapples with a $38-billion budget deficit.

We know why it's making the rounds. It is exactly what happens when politicians and special interests anyone other than taxpayers frame the budget debate, and its supposed solutions.

By presenting the public with only two choices, higher taxes or dramatic cuts in vital services, state politicians and special interest groups are taking a page from an age-old political storybook, absolving themselves of blame and scaring the public into believing it's up to them to solve the state's budget problems. Take your pick, people: Either pay more or prepare for a crime wave. Pay more or deal with a generation of uneducated kids. Pay more or get ready to toss frail seniors into the gutter. Are you really that cold-hearted?

Classical liberals realize that the true dichotomy here is between the mechanisms of the state that redistribute resources to those in political favor vs. mechanisms of civil society that respond by increasing resources to meet demand. The fixed-sum worldview of the left is a consequence of its placement of the state, rather than civil society, at the center of social interaction. After all, as praxeology tells us, voluntary exchanges have the potential for, and come with the expectation of mutual benefit, whereas involuntary relations without fail benefit one party at the expense of the other. When the world is seen a fixed-sum game, it leads to statements such as, "They're proposing to eliminate dog food for blind people? I can see the TV ads already."

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Little mention is ever made,

Little mention is ever made, of course, of cutting NON-essential servies as a viable option. And if what I think I know about California is at all accurate, there's more than 38 billion bucks of superfluous crap that could be cut out of the budget without causing a catastrophe.

But haven't you heard?

But haven't you heard? Giving dog food subsidies to poor blind people for their seeing eye dogs is an essential service...

The more ridiculous the expenditure, the greater the hysterical response to cutting it, I'd wager...

There's a hell of a lot more

There's a hell of a lot more than $38 billion of superflous crap that can be cut. First - let's cut the salaries and perqs of everyone working at the statehouse. They don't do anything except whine and point fingers anyway. Same with the governor's mansion.