Fair warning: what follows is a bit of a rant and contains nothing particularly new. But the fiscal follies of our overlords are unhinging me, and as misery loves company, I hope to share my derangement.
I’ve been a little obsessed with light bulbs lately, as regular readers know. I continue to be dumbfounded at the depth, passion, and naked-mole-rat-stupidity of the GOP drive to ensure Americans waste money on illumination. Following a thought from one commenter, I’m bracing for the claim that bans on whaling are really an unconscionable assault on the liberty of the people to light their homes with oil lanterns.
But as I thought about the implications of the Republican House caucus’ relentless drive to undermine America’s energy security, I started to fixate on a penetrating glimpse of the obvious: the entire GOP approach to the federal government’s fiscal policy is a vast tax hike on most Americans.
That the GOPsters approach to policy will raise the cost of living in America is, I think obvious by this point: when you privatize public goods, by and large those goods cost more for the individual user to access. (There is a lot of detail obscured by that blanket statement, and certainly some instances where it might be otherwise, but the health care system (about which more below) is a familiar example of the basic problem, and there are many more.)
Republicans would say, I think, that cost isn’t the issue. Government shouldn’t pay for much that it does now and that individuals can make better choices about priorities and so on. They’d add that government musn’t pay for that which it can’t; that, to use a cliche repeated over and over again, that the government must behave like any household would, and not spend money it doesn’t have.
That last is nonsense, of course. I’m actually working on a next book that tells a grand story of fraud and deceit at the birth of the idea of government debt — and that tale turns on the ways that governments aren’t like households or small businesses.
For now, though, the point is that if you take the Republicans false metaphor at face value, then you see that despite the brave promises of “no new taxes,” the practical, household consequences of their actions add up to a huge stealth tax increase that differentially falls on to working people, the middle class, and the poor.
And yes, as noted above, I know I’m restating the obvious, but bear with me. Let’s take my lighting fixation for a spin. Recall that the energy efficiency standards that so offend the current Republican caucus* are predicted to save each American household $50 a year.
Now back to that bill-paying session over the kitchen table Republicans are so wont to imagine.