In a piece written about the now infamous Paul Ryan (R-WI), who “who likes to plan for the really long term is Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for U.S. vice president. By 2050, Ryan’s budget plan would reduce federal spending outside health-care programs and Social Security to 3.75 percent of GDP, down from 12.5 percent last year, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office”. This is almost as ridicolous as Mitt Romney’s assertion at the recent debate in Denver, that government spending in America is the same as government spending in Spain and his plea that “I don’t want to go down the path to Spain”. Despite the fact that America has is the richest nation on earth, is the world’s largest economy, that America has a population three times the size of Spain and that Spain is in the failed eurozone, while America is not.
He goes on to write “According to the World Bank, government spending minus health care was already lower in the United States than in all of the European Union, Japan, China, and India in 2009, the latest year with comprehensive figures. At just 3.75 percent of GDP, the United States would be one of the world’s lowest spenders. The only countries that spent less in 2009 were Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. He goes on to justify his assertion noting “The first of these three is a small West African country where per capita income is as high as in much of Europe, but life expectancy is just 51 years; a tiny elite monopolizes revenue from oil exports while the majority stays mired in poverty”, adding that the DRC is on the World Failed States index.
He goes on to argue, forcefully that “the United States isn’t going to turn into a war-torn sub-Saharan republic overnight because of budget cuts. But Ryan and his cohorts do want to replicate some aspects of life in Africa’s poorest countries. They prefer to replace public services paid for by taxes with programs run by charities; because the decision to fund the latter rests with the individual, no state power tells you how much of your income to surrender. They also want many of the services now paid for by the federal government to come under local control, as they are by default in failed states”.
Thus the notion of taking a lead from the poorest, most badly run countries is not just dangerous but stupid, and incomprehensible. He adds “The problem with this approach is that an economically efficient outcome is very unlikely. In principle, a government’s spending has three motivations: 1) it can provide something more efficiently than the private sector, 2) it can ensure quality in a way that the private sector can’t, or 3) the private sector alone doesn’t have an incentive to provide enough of the item in question”. Indeed, a similar argument has been noted here before, with the GOP comparing the private sector and the state sector as equal, when they are patently not, thankfully.
He ends his piece noting the sheer stupidity of Ryan’s plan when he takes it to its logical conclusion, “If we rely on charity to fund all these items, we may simply end up with too little of them. Imagine, for example, a United States with a stripped-down Justice Department, a bare-bones military, and only tiny agencies to deal with issues like highway safety, air traffic control, food safety, and the disposal of nuclear waste. All these would rely on individuals’ goodwill to continue providing services that protect the entire population”.
Government is there for a reason, to “drown it in the bathtub” as some have suggested is to be blinded by a totally failed and morally bankrupt set of ideas.