Go back to the first question of spending.
Like it or not, we’re all tangled up with each other, so in some degree, the choices we make and the value we create or destroy affect everybody. How we structure society is a decision about how we utilize “our” resources. That doesn’t mean maximizing efficiency or economic advancement or anything else must be the highest purpose; we just need to remember that we’re acting at that level.
With that in mind, I can’t for the life of me understand why we apparently just assume that politicians in public office are the best stewards for the money that winds up in their hands:
Rhode Island’s official revenue estimators anticipate a $610-million year-end surplus, and hundreds of millions more from other pots of federal money that is not yet spent.
What’s a Rhode Island legislator to do with all this one-time money? Spend it? Return it to taxpayers? Salt it away in the state’s rainy-day fund for the next inevitable downturn? We asked Rhode Island’s part-time lawmakers and lawmakers-elect.
Whether they fritter it away to special interests, put it to shared productive use, or “give it back” to taxpayers, why should the use of so much of our collective wealth in their hands? Do people assume that politicians are particularly smart or moral? Does everybody have such faith in the processes of politics, with its lobbyists, corruption, and propaganda that we can trust it produces the best outcomes ideal (or even reasonably competent) outcomes?
My suspicion is that people don’t really think about it. How things are done is simply how they are done; somehow “we” must have decided to do it this way long ago, or maybe it’s the natural state of nature. Perhaps the first step toward better results is simply to prompt people to think a bit about these matters.
Featured image by Justin Katz.