Government Spending

No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.

<p>No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.</p>

The economy is struggling, the unemployment rate is high, and many Americans are struggling to pay the bills. But one class of Americans is doing quite well: government workers. Their pay levels are soaring, they enjoy unmatched benefits, and they remain largely immune from layoffs, except for some overly publicized cutbacks around the margins.

On January 11, Chile was officially invited to join the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Chile will be the OECD’s 31st member and its first from South America. The OECD is largely made up of the world’s richest and most stable economies and Chile’s invitation to join the club wasn’t always a given.

I recently attended a meeting with Maurice McTigue, director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a former member of the New Zealand Parliament, and a man with wide experience in government reform. Attendance at the meeting, arranged by State Senator Sylvia Allen, should have been required for everyone in our state government.

Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs approved HCR 2040, a measure that would refer yet another tax increase to Arizona voters. The proposal would require every Arizonan to pay an additional $12 for each license plate registration. The money would be directed to the state parks agency in an attempt to reopen some sites and to fund improvements at others.

Last week the Legislature made some long overdue spending reductions after three years of gimmicks, one-time cash grabs and borrowing. Amidst the cries of Armageddon, it sometimes helps to back away and look at the big picture.

As I have traveled the country recently promoting the need for fiscal responsibility many people have asked me: Are we Greece?

Over the past 40 years, U.S. government spending has grown by almost 300 percent after adjusting for inflation, and our revenues haven't kept pace. Our current deficits are the highest as a percentage of our economy since World War II.

Many local governments in Arizona want us to believe they have gone to extreme lengths to tighten their budget belts. But when you hear that Tucson is using its sign laws to squelch artistic murals on the historic Rialto Theater because the murals aren’t purely for artistic purposes—they also promote shows at the theater—you realize budgets can’t be that bare. Then there are the pool cops of Maricopa County, who are aiming to shut down weekend pool parties used by Phoenix-area resorts to boost their business during this recession.

I’m confused. I know the United States and Russia present starkly different economic systems. Faced with crushing recessions and government debt, they’re pursuing dramatically diverging paths. But in the Alice-in-Wonderland world we’ve inhabited for the last few years, Russia is the country that’s downsizing its national bureaucracy while the U.S. is dramatically expanding ours.

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