Tuesday, June 05, 2007


An E.J. Dionne followup

A few days ago, I commented on one of E.J. Dionne’s columns: Maryland Conservatarian: This just in: Republicans & Democrats have different priorities.

Lo and behold: Mr. Dionne responded…on line: E. J.'s Precinct: Replying to Blogger Friends. I think most bloggers would agree that respectful recognition from the object of a posting is always appreciated…so Mr. Dionne, thank you; I hope you weren’t offended by my constant references to you as a “liberal”.

As to his larger point on the general preference for federalizing of solutions, I think people tend to blur the various levels of governments into a generic “government”. Recently, attention was paid to an increase in some crime statistics. Blame was heaped on the Bush Administration because of cuts in some funds to local law enforcement efforts. But why should the federal government have to pay for Cleveland’s crime problems? Why don’t the citizens of Ohio (and Cleveland in particular) shoulder that problem?

Well, I suspect, state and local officials like receiving money from the Feds - saves them from having to tax the local populace to fund the local populace’s problems. The fungible nature of money should mean we are indifferent as to whether our tax dollars go to the state or federal government. But the blame for state taxes doesn’t cross state borders like the blame for federal taxes can. So to the extent we can look to the federal government to send us money that came somewhat from our own state is a painless way to get tax dollars without paying a political price for it.

It is inarguably less efficient to send dollars to Washington to pay for a Federal bureaucracy that you then have to send mountains of paperwork to in an effort to get some of the remaining money that hasn’t gone to pay for the federal bureaucracy to pay for what traditionally is a local government matter. But politically, it makes all the sense in the world. Like the example of the frog in the water of which the temperature is gradually raised to boiling, most people aren’t focused on just how all encompassing the federal government is becoming in our day-to-day lives. Yet I think it’s a story that people will listen to and obviously one the Republican leadership should be telling. But unfortunately, as Fred Thompson recently reminded us, many of the DC Republicans “…came to drain the swamp and made partnership with the alligators."

Nice, MC!
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