Friday, April 10, 2009

Liars, guts and money

Once upon a time conservatives believed in fiscal responsibility. Maybe that time was never real and is only a myth, but it is a nice myth. If those days ever really did exist, it was before Ronald Reagan became President. Ever since then, conservatives have shifted from fiscal responsibility to cutting taxes. For some odd reason, they seem to think that those two are the same. But they would rather see whopping deficits than to ever publicly support a tax increase. They seem to think that cutting taxes will lead to budget sanity by magic.

What has sparked this particular rant at this particular time is that I've received yet another communication from a local politician running for Plano City Council. And yet again, I was told that what set this guy apart was that he was a true conservative who would deal with the city's budget problems without raising taxes. This, of course, doesn't set any candidate apart. They all say the same thing.

What would you cut?

Just as all of these candidates say the same things about themselves, I ask them the same question: What would you cut? With the exception of Susan Plonka, the answers have all been the same. They have all said that they will work to eliminate waste in the current budget. Each candidate it happy to tell you what they won't cut, as exemplified by this report of a candidate forum.

Correcting a $13 million budget shortfall is going to require noticeable cuts in several city departments. Anyone who genuinely believes that trimming waste in unspecified areas is going to solve this problem is someone I would consider unsuitable to be managing such a budget.

Vote for liars

When these people (and this goes for people on the left as well as on the right) claim that they can deal with a major budget shortfall by eliminating wasteful spending here or there, they are either lying or they believe that budget problems can be solved by magic. If faced with a choice between the two, I would have to vote for the cowardly liars. The liars may lack the guts to tell voters the truth, but at least once they are safely in office, they will support real spending cuts and taxes as needed to address the problem. The magical thinkers will just dig us deeper into the hole.

Self deception and delusion about spending, budgets and taxes is not a good starting point. Yet that is the starting point of candidate after candidate. Even the candidates who will privately admit to supporting some cuts (or taxes) do their best to conceal this virtue. Of course voters are largely to blame here. Candidates who tell the truth don't last long. And that is why we are stuck with trying to sort out the liars (for whom we should vote) from the delusional ideologues (whom we should avoid).

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