Friday, February 20, 2009

A great idea

I, sadly, don't know where the post was because I wasn't thinking about blogging on it when it happened, but sometime this week there was a note about how Gov. Jindal was saying he would have to evaluate the conditions on the money given to the states in the Obama spending bill. (I refuse to refer to it as a "stimulus package" because I don't think that was even its intent. Certainly there were progressives, Obama likely among them, who think that huge amounts of spending on liberal priorities will help the economy, but as Podhoretz brilliantly illustrates, the reason they wanted the spending bill was that they wanted the spending. They just happened to also think it would help stimulate the economy.) This is a wise move because frequently Federal grants are something like a dealer offering $5000 off on a new car. This doesn't help much if you spend $20,000 and don't need a new car.

My real interest, though, came in one of the commenters, who got so mad he stated that Jindal shouldn't get any of the money, and neither should any state represented by a Senator who "obstructed" the bill. I'll leave aside for a second the possibility that one might vote against something where they had no hand in the writing and nearly every attempt to modify it was rejected because of a belief in deleterious effects of the bill and not mere political obstruction. My thought is that this is a terrific idea. If I could speak for my state I would say "terrific!" Like most conservatives, I think this bill is going to be a disaster. I think it's going to practically double the baseline budget, inflate the currency, add massively to the debt, and still not create nearly the 2.5 million jobs (that's $250k per job, assuming it works) that Obama claims. If you're giving me an opt-out, I'm in. Just don't make me or my kids pay for it, either.

In fact, why don't we develop a system of governance based on that. Here's what we could do: We could set up a limited central government (We'll call it "federal" to distinguish it from a true "national" government that can do anything) that has limits on its power to only do those things that are needed to keep the nation together: They could put together an army and a navy, keep the coast and sea lanes free, declare war when needed, regulate commerce with other nations (we tried regulating commerce independently as states during the early days of the nation; it was a disaster), create a standard currency, regulate interstate trade, and only tax enough to carry out those powers. Then if the states disagreed on how to deal with an issue they could each come up with their own solution. Liberals like California might want to give lots of money for Green Cars for government employees and monorails and increases in welfare in the hopes that giving away lots of money increases the economy enough to offset the taxes or bonds they had to have to pay for it. Conservatives like Georgia might want to cut taxes on businesses in the belief that they would create enough jobs to increase the actual revenue.

I think this is a brilliant idea. I'm surprised nobody thought of it 200 years ago.

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