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Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Stupid Things People Say

While watching CNN a few weekends ago, Miles O'Brien was hosting a show, "Welcome To The Future", in which several guests had the chance to weigh in on their views of the future. This episode took place around the 9/11 anniversary. While many ideas and comments were tossed around, one of the guests, Jay Thomas with Sirius Satellite Radio, said something very stupid:
(CROSS TALK) THOMAS: I have a problem with where my tax dollar is spent. I wish I could check off on my tax dollar that I don't want a certain amount of money to go into certain things.
O'BRIEN: You want the line item veto on your 1040.
O'BRIEN: You want the line item veto on your 1040.
ZOLLER: That's right. Amen.
O'BRIEN: I like that idea.
THOMAS: I wonder. The people that want to support the United States Army or the war, or whatever, they can.
O'BRIEN: You could opt out.
THOMAS: People who want to support it only when they go in to help people, they can do that.
BROWNE: The government would certainly pay a lot of attention to that.
THOMAS: You know what, they would change.
O'BRIEN: It's an interesting thing.

Has he not heard of a public good. Does someone need to tell him that national defense is a public good and that if there were line items for national defense, then if he did not support or contribute to it that he would be open to attack? What an absurd and completely stupid comment. Thank goodness that national defense is a public good without line item support from the taxpayer.

This also leads me to think of another chat I had with my brother-in-law, Doug, and my wife's cousin, Jason. Doug is a fire fighter and Jason is a deputy sheriff. They were talking about the funding the receive. Jason said that his department is facing a $7 million shortfall this year which means he will not get a pay raise. Doug, on the other hand, said that, basically, whatever the fire department asks for, they get (from bonds and other tax payments). This brings up the question- are they both a public good?

Why is it that fire department get money when police do not. Do people see the fire department helping them and their house/belongings and see the police as giving them tickets and harassing them to keep "good" instead of seeing them as protecting them from the bad guys.
This budget shortfall could certainly be caused by a lack of accountability from politicians, however, I think it shows how police and fire are not viewed as a total public good.

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