The daily drucker: february 22 - the pork-barrel state

Government becomes the master of civil society, able to mold and shape it.

Until World War I, no government in history was ever able to obtain from its people more than a small fraction of the country's national income, perhaps 5 or 6 percent.  As long as revenues were known to be limited, governments, whether democracies or absolute monarchies like that of the Russian czars, operate under extreme restraints.  These restraints made it impossible for the government to act as either social or an economic agency.  But since World War I - and even more noticeably since World War II - the budgeting process has meant, in effect, saying yes to everything.  Under the new dispensation, which assumes that there are no economic limits to the revenue it can obtain, government becomes the master of civil society, able to mold it, and shape it.  Through the power of the purse, it can shape society in the politician's image.  Worst of all, the fiscal state has become a "pork-barrel state."

The pork-barrel state thus increasingly undermines the foundations of a free society.  The elected representatives fleece their constituents to enrich special interest groups and thereby to buy their votes.  This is a denial of the concept of citizenship - and it is beginning to be seen as such.

ACTION POINT: Draft a ballot petition for a balanced-budget amendment in your city including a limit to the annual increases in property taxes, like Proposition 13 in California.  Then go to the city council meetings and evaluate expenditures against budget limitations.

Quoted from The Daily Drucker, page 58


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