19 July, 2012

Common Sense, isn't

I've seen a couple of my FB friends who 'liked' the Common Sense Coalition. So I went and looked at what they are about. I looked at what they listed as their principles. Among them was Personal Freedom, a concept my readers probably know is dear to my heart. It goes; Protecting individual rights from over-zealous government is a fundamental principle of our democracy. The virtues of individuals — self-reliance, responsibility, ingenuity, entrepreneurialism – these are the cornerstones of the Bill of Rights, our culture and our strength as a nation. While we are a nation of individuals, we have a history of working together to help those in need. I'd tell them we don't live in a democracy, but rather a representative republic. Hmmm, maybe they weren't in class that day in school, so I'll let it slide for now Another one is labeled 'Efficient Government' color me shocked, but somehow when those two words are paired together, rents in the fabric of spacetime occur somewhere. When we entrust our government with our money, we impose upon them an obligation to behave responsibly and efficiently. Government should have clear goals and metrics for the programs they invest in and should change or repeal those programs that are ineffective. Government should also aggressively root out waste and hold itself to the highest standard of accountability. Decision-making should also occur at the right level of government. State and local governments, who are closer to the people and problems at hand, are often better suited to solve problems than the federal government. I really like the idea that state and local government understands what folks at those levels need, rather than some politician in Washington D.C. So far, with a couple small details, they sound like a rather 'common sense' bunch. The next principle I'd like to examine is what they term 'justice and fairness. A government that indiscriminately favors one group over another does so at the expense of justice. A government that exempts a select few from its laws or regulations does so at the expense of fairness. Pay attention to that first sentence in the above paragraph, cause I am getting to my point in this whole exercise. And look at the next paragraph. Fairness dictates that the costs of government be borne both broadly and disproportionately by those who have benefited the most from our economic system. This means our tax system should be simple, progressive, and that all citizens should bear part of the burden. So by having high income earners pay more, the government is discriminately favoring one group over another. But how is that fair, to discriminate against a very productive part of the tax base? The answer, it isn't fair. A much more sensible, fair policy would be a flat tax. Thanks, but no thanks, common sense, isn't.