Friday, November 5, 2010

Tim Pawlenty Making Sense

Here's Tim Pawlenty with some good points, similar to the ones Chris Christie has been making. Be sure to read the whole thing here. Below, my edited version of his short list:
1. Set clear priorities but cut almost everything else. Not everything government does is equally important.

2. Reform out-of-control entitlements. By far, the biggest long-term driver of the federal debt is entitlement spending, including Social Security and Medicare. These programs are going to have to be changed. And despite Beltway rhetoric, it can be done.

3. Sacrifice. Americans have sacrificed enough; it’s time for government to sacrifice for a change.
The explanations behind this short general list can be found at the link. While I am personally not reflexively opposed to tax increases in some cases, as Pawlenty is, I think he's pointing in the right direction. And has good concrete examples of things he did in his state.

These are the sorts of changes the future holds for all of us, If we are lucky and wise, we get on board now and do them by choice. If not, they happen anyway when insolvency forces them on us in more ugly, unfair, uneven, unpleasant ways.


  1. The message that pols everywhere should be getting is that it is time for government to re-justify itself, from the ground up. We've spent decades building up a behemoth, its feeding habits have gotten out of control, and it's time to put a stop to that.

    In the last two years overall government spending, already a thorn in the side of the body politic, has gone from 35% of GDP to 45%, and people are mad as hell about it. The TEA Party movement was not a flash in the pan -- it will persist and grow until the problem is adequately addressed through restructuring the diet of the trough-pigs, or until we collapse under the weight of demosclerosis.

    As someone said several months ago and as the electorate confirmed last Tuesday, the message coming from the people is loud and clear:


    It remains to be seen if that will is sustainable when their own particular portions of pork come onto the carving block, but a failure to follow through in the immediate future leads one direction: downhill.

  2. That's a pretty good rant, and I am not unsympathetic.

    The big question I have is how "pig trough" matches up with "non-discretionary spending."

    The pig trough hypothesis allows us all to feel righteous in blaming greedy politicians and wasteful unnecessary government.

    How does that line up with social security, medicare, interest on debt, and the defense budget, which are the big pieces of the non-discretionary spending and the biggest discretionary item?

    Americans who have insisted that social security and medicare are unsustainable may well have planned accordingly. But what percent of Americans has private funds to get by without SS or enough dough to purchase private healthcare? 5%? 10%

    What percent would be destitute at age 70ish without it? 30%? 40%? 50% 60% ?

    So in the biggest areas of the budget, we can expect only marginal tweaks, along with revised deals for folks furthest from retirement in the areas of state and fed pensions, another area of big unfunded gov't liability. Demographics suggest to me that this can at best be mitigated. And I agree, it should be, and ASAP.

    L hear all you're saying, but just like you, I worry about how "pig trough:" suggests, "not my fault, so don't gore MY ox."

    My biggest worry is how folks accept lowered expectations without being bitter. From listening to you for years Tully, I know you planned for such lower expectations for a long time. That means you don't have to make many adjustments now. But it also makes it a little hard for you to be realistic about the reactions of others.

    It's sort of a "we're all stuck with each other" thing, aint it? You planned and set aside, and are prepared to fight for your set-asides, But in one form or another, the starving come with pitchforks for the well-stocked larders. Some foresighted folks with resources react to this realization by digging a bitchin moat and 4 foot thick walls on the castle, and training a kickass corps of knights. Others respond by fostering policies where there is a chicken in every pot.

    I blather all this only to get to the point where we both notice that no American is in favor of any version of LESS which falls below the line of ENOUGH.

  3. A chicken in every pot requires that you have enough chickens. "Non-discretionary spending" is a misleading term. In the end, all spending is discretionary to some degree. Both the Flounder Moment and the Darth Vader principle apply. ("Pray I do not alter it further.")