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With Tax Day fast approaching, take a moment to join Russell “The Public Investments Super Hound” and consider just where our community (and society at-large) would be without the taxes we all pay.

 

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More details became available yesterday about the ongoing conservative plan to sell off a large number of the public assets that help bind North Carolina together and make middle class life attainable and enjoyable.

As we noted a few weeks back after a previous legislative hearing on the subject of privatizing essential public assets:

“The only problem with this vision, of course, is that it is an absurd fantasy on several levels. As humans have learned through centuries of trial and error Read More

You have to hand it to modern conservatives — their cynical plan to “drown government in the bathtub” is succeeding. It works like this:

Yell and scream that government spending is “out of control” and then use the manufactured confusion and anger that results to justify big tax and spending cuts. Then, when the quality of government services plummet as a result of the cuts, yell and scream that government is inherently inefficient, wasteful and incompetent and restart the whole vicious cycle.

The saddest thing about all of this is that the underlying premise (a premise frequently parroted by well-meaning, if inattentive progressives) is all wet. Government spending in North Carolina is quite demonstrably not out of control now and has not been out of control anytime recently.

As Ed McLenghan’s post just below explains, it’s all there in the numbers.

A new BTC Brief released this morning demonstrates that, by any reasonable measure, state funding for core services like education, health and human services, public safety, and other general government services is historically low.

For nearly four decades, state funding for core General Fund services like public schools, community colleges, universities, mental and physical health, and public safety typically hovered between 6 and 6.5 percent of the combined total of all North Carolina residents’ annual incomes.  As shown in the chart at right, the new state budget represents a major departure from recent historical precedent.

The consequences of this reduced commitment to state public investments have already started to become clear: fewer teachers and teacher-assistants in the classroom, longer waiting lists for child-care subsidies, higher tuition and fewer classes for university and community college students, and the potential elimination of vital health services for elderly, disabled, and indigent North Carolinians. Read More

In a must-read blog post, respected economist Timothy Bartik takes down the pernicious myth that “government doesn’t create jobs.”

This myth, Bartik writes, is based on a “profound misunderstanding” of how the economy works.  That it’s commonly held by policymakers contributes to misguided economic policies that fail to take into account the important role that government investments and services play in the economy.

But a more perceptive analysis recognizes that all sectors of the economy ideally can provide productive goods and services that can help contribute to greater well-being. Our economy is interdependent. The value of what we produce, and the number and quality of jobs, can be affected by all sectors of the economy… This includes the government.

[snip]

But more importantly, if government provides productive services, it helps support the private economy. These supports include a legal system of property rights, a criminal justice system that preserves public order, roads and other transportation infrastructure that facilitate commerce, and human capital development programs that develop the skills of the labor force. Read More