Saturday, December 20, 2008

Name Four Ways to Cut Spending

Shelly Sindland, the affable host of “The Real Story,” a Fox news production, had on her program three guests: Chris Healy, the chairman of the state Republican Party, Roy Occhiogrosso, a principal with Global Strategy Group, and Kevin Rennie, once a Republican state Rep. and now a commentator for the Hartford Courant.

Mrs. Sindland asked of her guests a question that reporters should not fail to ask of legislators as the state attempts to discharge a $6 billion biennial budget deficit: How do we cut spending?

At first there was some palaver about tolls, selling Bradley Field and selling off portions of state highways to private firms for maintenance, while politely asking the UConn Health Center to return some of the money lavished upon it by past legislatures.

Then Mrs. Sindland offered an idea of how to pump money back into the economy:

“I have a great idea. A congressman from Texas on the federal level is proposing to suspend the income tax and the social security tax for two months at a cost of $350 million dollars. Why not let people keep their money and let people figure out for themselves how to pump money back into the economy?”

Healy, conversant with conservative ideas, began to bobble his head. “I’m all for that,” he said. One of Healy’s conservative heroes is the late Bill Buckley who, tracing the course of a dollar to Washington and back again in the form of a federal grant, professed his dismay at the willingness of taxpayers to let go of the dollar in the first place. To quote Mrs. Sindland, why not let them keep it; why the unnecessary and costly trip to Washington, where every bureaucrat in the land is permitted to take a bite of it as if it were a wee bannock?

Occhiogrosso said, “I’m all for people keeping more of their money and spending it here in Connecticut,” forgetting for the moment that the lifeblood of spendthrift legislatures depends upon the willingness of the great unwashed to send a dollar to Washington and get back 50 cents in return.

Sage Rennie nodded in agreement, and later burst into song: “We need immediate solutions. The legislature, when it met last month, could not cut $100 million dollars from an $18 billion dollar budget. That’s what’s ahead. .. It’s maddening. No one wants to talk [about] what we’re to do. There’s $3 billion dollars this year, $3 billion dollars next year, and they’re shrugging. They’re averting their gaze. We’re led by crazy people,” a golden perception one hopes Rennie will share with his readers at the Courant, perhaps in a future column.

In the meantime, outside the citadel of the legislature, the Red Death of Allen Edgar Poe’s short story, prowls along the castle walls looking for a breach.

We all remember the story from English class.

The Red Death has carried off thousands of victims in the countryside. Prince Prospero decides to ignore all this distasteful nonsense and throws a masque ball in his secure castle. In their blissful ignorance, the revelers dance and play, oblivious to the terror outside the walls of the castle – until one day, a stranger appears, dressed in red, the color of blood and revolution. Prospero, his sword drawn, pursues the stranger through seven rooms, determined to avenge himself upon the impertinent gate crasher. And in the seventh room, the Red Death unmasks himself. At the sight of the Red Death, Prospero falls dead. The story ends when the rest of the revelers rush into the room.

If anyone wants to see a mad legislator run from the death room, he has only to be asked to cite four ways of cutting the budget.

But that is exactly the question that ought to be put to all state politicians seeking office. So far, entropy is Lord Prospero; what we have done before – raise taxes, move money from account to account, plague the citizenry with niggling little taxes -- we are tempted to do again. This time, it won’t work.


Anonymous said...

These are not immediate fixes. The situation we have now took a long time to set up. That's what it was, "a set up."
1. Let's keep legislators who're poised to make Home Education more difficult for home schooler parents to do so, from trying to change the original wording of O'Neil's Bill. I'm speaking of Gaffey. It will save money and children will be educated, not "trained" to be immature spendthrifts who don't plan for their own futures.

2. Make Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" required reading in all high schools, and again in College. (eigth grade might not be too early). Add more Civics classes, and History classes. REMOVE EDUCATION FROM CENTRAL CONTROL. There's nothing in the Constitution that says it is Gov't's duty to educate.

3. Welfare payments for unwed mothers of children should STOP after birth of 2nd. child. No payments for a third child, no exceptions. No payments for the mother either.

4. Reduce budget for DCF and other Social Service departments. Practically all are over bloated.
Tough love is needed to create responsible people.

5. Close the 117 independent probate courts (star chambers), and make those functions the province of a division of Superior Court. Have appointed full time judges, not elected judges who work part time "in the community,"
to discourage coziness between "bar and bench."

6. Encourage apprenticeships in many more fields (even Guilds if necessary) so a student can find out where they'll find satisfying, self fulfilling work, rather than perpetuate the myth that everyone must go to college to "succeed."
Aside: no reduced tuition for ilegal immigrants.

7. Reduce taxes, encourage entrepreneurship rather than glamourize work in an institution (the hierarchical hive).

8. Encourage people to volunteer in their communities, rather than to create networks where they just meet for a particular goal like "urban renewal." "Community" is a misnomer for some of those activities.

Anonymous said...

Pretty good suggestions. Related to #1, the Yankee Institute, the best libertarian/conservative think tank in Connecticut, has suggested knocking off the lastr year of High School for exceptional students. The state would pay for the first year of college in state for such students, as an additional incentive to get them to participate in the program. Lots of savings there. There are other good ideas floating around. A unicameral legislature might make sense and bring some sanity to the legislative process. But state legislators are not thinking of ways to control spending; just the opposite – now they are waiting for a handout from the next proto-socialist administration, not that the end of the Bush years was a positive step forward for capitalism. I’m not so sure about forcing Ayn Rand on students; don’t think she’d approve it either. But that’s a quibble.

Anonymous said...

You're right, she might not approve. So, I'll replace that suggestion with, make it required reading in High School to read something like "The 5,000 Year Leap." Reagan would approve. He suggested it. Kennedy disapproved.

I'd like to see a discussion, suggestions about organizing small groups of home schoolers to support each other's endeavor.(I have no dog in this fight). It just makes sense to me.

Good idea about knocking off last yr. of High School for exceptional students and have state pay for first yr. college.
However, I remember challenging one of my Dev. Psych. teachers who focused on children (he wanted no grading or competition)who were "behind the rest" and who needed to develop "self esteem" (I prefer "self worth"), I asked about the Talented and Gifted who were being held back, shortchanged, held up when they were anxious to move on. When I asked if "they" were trying to level the playing field, he said,"yes."
Dropping a year of High School is a good plan though.

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