With the political season entering overdrive, all the candidates are promising to cut taxes, restore morality and make us safer. It is unclear how we will fund both the tax cuts and the public safety proposals, which come with high price tags — more government programs, more police, more laws, more emphasis by government on It…
With the political season entering overdrive, all the candidates are promising to cut taxes, restore morality and make us safer. It is unclear how we will fund both the tax cuts and the public safety proposals, which come with high price tags — more government programs, more police, more laws, more emphasis by government on It traditional values."
My ideal candidate–who would never win election–would be more more honest. I can hear her speech now…
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is the job of the state to secure your safety. Government should prevent people from harming the person or property of others. If elected, I pledge to spend at least twice as much as we are currently spending to accomplish that.
Naturally, you will want to know where the additional money will come from. As a fiscal conservative, I cannot propose programs that are not fully funded. But there is no problem–the money is readily available. We will simply discontinue America’s incredibly expensive attempts to impose "morality" on our citizens.
We could begin with the cost of purging the military of homosexuality. We spend in excess of $27 million dollars a year investigating the sex lives of officers whose job performance is perfectly acceptable, and then throwing them out. (Per unit costs are more reasonable than toilet seats and hammers, but that is still a lot to waste on a pretty silly exercise.)
Then there is the drug war. We have spent well over $100 billion–yes, billion–since 1980, without significantly reducing the use of drugs. And that doesn’t include taxes we might have collected if certain drugs were decriminalized. The drug war has created the single most dangerous threat to safety in our cities–the gangs whose profits depend upon continued prohibition. If I am elected, I will ask former Surgeon General Koop to return and to address the drug problem as he did nicotine addiction–as a public health crisis rather than a criminal justice issue. The money we save by no longer prosecuting consensual crimes can be turned over to law enforcement.
Treating drugs as a public health problem will also save us untold millions in prison construction, since well over half of federal prisoners are behind bars on drug-related charges. At $80,000 per cell for construction and $15,000 per prisoner per year for upkeep, we will save a pretty penny. We might even be able to consider programs to turn these felons into responsible citizens–or at least into citizens who will not threaten our safety once they are released.
Surely the federal government doesn’t need to eavesdrop on all the people currently being wiretapped at an average cost per wiretap of $73,000. (Do you suppose they use platinum wire?) And think of all those local prosecutions for possession of pornography. Do we really want to pay money to keep Mr. Jones from looking at dirty pictures? Wouldn’t the money be better spent ensuring that he didn’t molest small children?
If we really want to limit government, let’s relieve it of the obligation to be a moral nanny. Let’s confine it to those tasks that really do make us safe and secure in our persons, homes and possessions."
It would never sell.