Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Frugality To A Fault (For One, I Believe)

(By the way, I posted over here based on what I thought was a well-written Guest Opinion that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today by Cyril Mychalejko.)

The Murdoch Street Journal tells us here that Texas Governor Rick Perry and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (both Republican, of course) wrote a column basically telling the incoming Obama Administration and the 111th Congress that they don’t need a bailout, thank you…

…the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt. It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction -- toward a "bailout mentality" where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions. We're asking other governors from both sides of the political aisle to join with us in opposing further federal bailout intervention for three reasons.
And the three reasons, by the way are: 1) We’re acquiring too much debt (a concern I would echo were it not for the fact that we have to get credit moving again; I defer to Paul Krugman on stuff like this); 2) “…the bailout mentality threatens Americans' sense of personal responsibility” (yes, let’s all be moral scolds while our economy is tanking…God, I can cut the “stupid” with a knife here); and 3) “…we'd ask the federal government to stop believing it has all the answers” (yes, just remember, boys and girls, as your jobs, pensions, health insurance and your homes are disappearing like sand through a strainer, it’s not happening because this is the culmination of the scam first perpetrated by The Sainted Ronnie R – namely, that YOU TOO can be part of the “ownership society,” which, as Barack Obama correctly surmised, means that, if you aren’t rich, you’re on your own…hell no, this is happening because of BIG GOVERNMENT!!

Pardon me while I retch.

In the case of Perry, it should be noted that Texas doesn’t need federal help because, as stated here, they have benefitted from the increase in oil prices this year to the tune of $10.7 billion (let’s see the guy The Eternal Molly Ivins used to call “Goodhair” lambaste the federal government and whine about a “bailout mentality” minus all that dough). And though she didn’t author this column, it should be noted that “Governor Hottie” herself echoed similar sentiments here, which is also amusing considering that residents of Alaska benefit from about four different oil-related taxes; if anything, Alaskans should be bailing US out.

The real puzzlement to me, though, is why Mark Sanford would buy into any of this hooey. I believe the answer, though, lies in the fact that his state squandered a billion dollar budget surplus (here), while, as noted here (near the bottom)...

“...(the) real problem (with South Carolina’s budget) is not runaway spending, but a deeply flawed tax system. Among the tax policy challenges that South Carolina must address are limitations on property tax growth and property tax assessments, wasteful tax breaks for profitable corporations like Michelin, and an excessive reliance on a sales tax that fails to tax services adequately.”
And it doesn’t help when someone like Sanford is prone to publicity stunts (as noted here), but doesn’t know that, when handling a state’s finances, there are times when it doesn’t pay to be a tightwad (such as when you refuse to spend on infrastructure or even something as elemental as tourism marketing).

But hey, maybe Sanford can hit up his pals Rick and Sarah for some dough if the day ever comes when it dawns on the South Carolina guv that his state is sinking into the abyss (at least the state comptroller knows it’s time for a special budget session, as noted here).

However, when it comes to the rest of the states, I think it’s pretty safe to say that they all need help (and our incoming president, as opposed to the half wit who is about to depart, thoroughly understands that).

Update 12/22/08: Yep, Sanford's got a problem, all right (here).

Update 1/1/09: Looks like reality has finally set in for the governor of South Carolina (here).

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