Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bad Analogy - Government Economic Decisions As Family

The Acting CEO of the hospital came to our department meeting to talk about the state budget. Like many states, NH is having a budget crisis, though ours is not so bad as others. In discussing, as good liberals do, how the governor and legislature are looking at revenue streams (that's "taxes" for all of you who can't make the necessary translation), she used the common analogy of what a family would do if its budget was tight. After cutting out nonessentials, a family would look at ways of increasing revenue.

I am really tired of this analogy. Families do not make money the same way that governments do, nor spend it according to the same rules. If New Hampshire is like a family at all, it is the citizens who are the family, not the government. The family analogy smuggles in the idea that the government is the parent in this grouping. Liberals use that analogy because that really is the way they see government. Like wayward children, we the citizens are only given as much freedom - and money - as they think we can handle responsibly. But we, the people, all get together and select a custodian, not a dad.

I thought at first it would be good to picture the government as the children in this family. Then I thought that picturing the government as the household servants would be better. But both of those break down when you try and push them, so I decided that it is better to get rid of the family analogy altogether. It doesn't hold together at any level. In a family, the people who make the money have a dominant voice in how its spent, and those who receive are under the tutelage of the producers. Secondly, in a family the children grow up to have families of their own. In a nation, neither of those things is true.

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