What is the point of a government? I would say the simplest, easiest answer to the question is, “Governments exist to secure freedoms”. It certainly is a foundational answer in American politics. Typically, (especially since this country is insanely religious) these sorts of questions get caught up with morality. Take a gander at Fox news during a discussion about the minimum wage law. The discussion is almost certainly focused on whether or not the poor deserve better wages. On the left you have do CEOs really deserve their obscene salaries? When it comes to the social safety net there are yet more morality based doubts. Do the poor deserve to live? If you talk to republicans you are left with the impression that the poor do nothing but laze around all day playing computer games and eating “bon bons” (when we heard that from a Republican on TV, my wife suggested we commission a study to determine how many of the poor know what a bon bon actually is). Do immigrants deserve to come to this country? Do the wealthy deserve tax cuts. Does anyone deserve a tax cut?
The hell with morality. It’s a useless metric for determining a course of action, particularly on the government level. Do the working poor deserve a pay raise? I no longer care. As I’ve said before, the point of a minimum wage is not there for the purposes of generosity. It’s because labor increases the value of a company and you need to compensate your laborers for that increase in value regardless of how low you can bid the wages in the open market. In theory, the CEOs get their obscene salaries because this is representative of the increase in value they bring to the company. Obviously the system needs some adjustment. The government spends money based on the needs and wishes of the voters and upon the assumed wishes of non-voters. And the voters in this country very worried about waste in this country. In fact, they see waste as intrinsic to the existence of a government. Don’t worry about it. Waste is a nonsensical construct by which to judge a country. Any waste that a government produces goes straight into the economy. People are getting fantastically wealthy off of government waste, which if Republicans are correct, will trickle down to the rest us far more efficiently than if the government tried any other redistribution on it’s own. In fact, Republicans should be arguing for greater government waste. This is basically the military’s primary contribution to our country. Whatever money the government sends into the economy will eventually come back to the government in the form of taxes and fees. It may take generations, but eventually, it’ll get it back. If you run out of money you can always make more. It’s very easy. I think these days all they have to do is punch in a number and press a button.
This is where we should hear from inflation hawks. ‘You’ll ruin the country through hyperinflation!’ No I won’t. Inflation is a meaningless term and it too is often mistaken for theft. If my wife bakes a pie and cuts into 4 pieces and gives me a slice and tomorrow cuts the pie into 8 pieces and gives me two, has she cheated me? nonsense. The pie has undergone inflation. I’m cheated only if the pie is smaller the next day. The key metric here is “value”. If the government truly wastes money, it will eventually get the money back again. Slowly. And it will create very little value while doing so. If the government spends its money wisely it will create great value quickly. It has nothing to do with morality. As a government, it’s on incredibly shaking ground to help people based on need, or because they deserve it. This kind of moral judgment is inappropriate for a government. Helping the poor creates adds tremendous value precisely because wealth generation, innovation, creativity, jobs, and so on are mainly done in the middle class and you need that social mobility if your country is going to be healthy.
Most people agree that the government should spend more money on infrastructure. Mostly because this is such a ridiculously obvious point that anencephalic troglodytes of any political stripe can see it. Infrastructure creates a tremendous amount of value for the country. Should the government be spending billions of dollars on turning corn into ethanol? no because it returns very little value to the economy. How about tax cuts for major corporations? Same deal. Supply side economics works only if there is an extreme cash shortage. That used to be the case for oil companies, it’s not now. Where does the government get the money for all this spending? From taxes of course. “but… but… that’s my money” some might argue. True but you also get phenomenal value for your tax money in the way of all those roads and schools and stuff we talked about. In return, the increase in value directly increases your freedom and the value of that freedom.