The most important role of government is the protection of its citizens and their fundamental rights. After that comes the ability to provide basic infrastructure that benefits all, and can be more efficiently provided by the government than by the private sector. Everything else is a special interest.
A lot of what government provides today could be provided more efficiently by the private sector. But everybody thinks, if they can get the government to pay for it, then it’s free. It isn’t. It’s paid for by taxpayers. That’s us. And because it’s paid through taxes rather than directly, there are a whole lot of extra layers of administrative costs and bureaucratic overhead that we also have to pay for.
There are many hidden pockets of pork in government that get carried forward year after year, with very little awareness on the part of the public that pays for them. When politicians benefit from the fat (or their campaign contributors do), it’s in their personal interests to protect their pork, regardless of what it costs the rest of us. They cut deals with each other — I’ll vote for your pork if you vote for mine. And the pork pile grows and grows.
What we need are elected officials who will just say no to pork. I’d like to see the federal government dump all the pork out of the barrel, scrap the entire current budget, and start from scratch with zero-based budgeting. Prioritize the things that absolutely must be funded. Figure out how to get the best return on investment for the money allocated to fund them. When we run out of budget, stop there. The problem with a credit-based economy is everybody thinks they have a right to whatever they want, whether they can afford it or not. Even the government has a sense of entitlement.
Until the basics are covered, nothing else should be on the table. After the basics are funded, if there’s money left over, pay off the national debt. (That’ll take a few thousand years, at least.)
Is this unreasonable? I know it isn’t as easy as falling off a chair, but I’d happily see our entire Congress lose their seats if it would make our government as accountable with our money as we are.