NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 28, 2008

With the unsustainable growth of government, there is an immediate need to rebuild from the ground up -- on a much smaller scale and with a new mission:  Keep us safe and leave us alone, say Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins, former Treasury Department officials.

A set of minimalist guidelines may be useful:

  • America is for the most part still an educated, highly civilized and affluent society with little need for governance; if these qualities decline among the population, more governance will be needed.
  • Government is a high-cost way of doing anything because it finances itself with taxes, which do more harm to the private economy than they yield in revenues for the government to spend.

Other recommendations:

  • The less government does, the better off we are; government should spend its resources solely on high-value projects that only it can perform, for instance, national security.
  • Government cannot spend its way out of the economic hole dug by taxes; when government expands beyond its limited areas of competence and efficiency, the public benefit per dollar of additional spending drops and the marginal cost of more taxes to pay for bigger government rises.

A couple of solutions could help alleviate the situation, say Christian and Robbins:

  • Tell voters the truth about the high cost of taxes weighed against the often low benefit of spending and force Congress to adhere to a cost-benefit budget procedure, conducted in the open with full public notice and voter participation.
  • Give everyone a "tax cut dividend" when spending reduction targets are met -- and send them a bill for additional taxes when spending goes up; government will shrink, the economy will grow and, with a large base of prosperity, America will always have plenty of money with which to meet any crisis.

Source: Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins, "Government's New Minimalist Mission: 'Just Keep Us Safe And Leave Us Alone'" Investor's Business Daily, February 26, 2008.


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