Years ago, Saturday Night Live had a running gag in which Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein’s monster agreed: “Fire bad!” This is the level of logic behind the Norquist pledge that an overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress have signed: “Taxes bad!”
Grover Norquist is probably the most influential non-politician in American politics. Although he’s not an economist, it seems to me that his philosophy should be branded Norquist Economics, due to its influence on our society over the past two decades. The guiding principle of Norquist Economics is that starving the government benefits the economy, and society as a whole.
I disagree. Because of the Norquist pledge:
We lag behind many other countries in providing our children with a high-quality education, jeopardizing our future competitiveness in the world economy.
Our national infrastructure of roads, bridges, dams, etc., is deteriorating, and Republicans don’t seem to believe we should invest in maintaining and upgrading it.
Our mental-health system is inadequately funded, leaving many poor mentally ill citizens without adequate treatment.
Many state and local law enforcement agencies are underfunded, and some communities lack adequate fire and public safety protection. Speed limits aren’t adequately enforced on interstate highways.
Agencies providing social services across the country are understaffed, and caseworkers have impossibly large caseloads. Our child-welfare system is a national disgrace.
Nobody likes paying taxes, but we need (most of) the things that taxes pay for. It’s reasonable to expect everyone to pay their fair share, for the common good.
Jeffrey C. Koob