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Consensus on Cutting the Deficit?

Friday January 21st, 2011   •   Posted by Emily Skarbek at 8:34am PST   •  

Yesterday The New York Times published the results of a poll on how to cut the national deficit. Interestingly, a majority of people think necessary action is needed, the deficit can be reduced without increasing taxes, and it is necessary to cut back on programs they benefit from. Cause for optimism? I think not.

Public choice economics and the pathologies of an unconstrained democracy will guarantee no coherent mechanism for making broad-based reforms. The process will be one of bite, chew, and gnaw by some interest groups at the programs of others. *If* we witness any reduction in the Leviathan it will sadly mimic the process by which we got here in the first place—piecemeal policies that fail to genuinely benefit the individual good of each and everyone.

There is a need to be blunt about the state of which our institutions have evolved. Some groups of men and women easily wield the coercive power of government over others, and many feel no moral trepidation in taking from others that which is not theirs to take. Especially when the official intermediary is doing the deed and each privately can claim the virtues of such public desires. The “public” debts incurred at the bequest of special interest groups now are equivalent to loading the guns which unknown future special interest groups will use to rob other individuals in the future.

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January 2011