Sean Kershaw's Weblog
July 26, 2006
More on my concerns:
1) Investing: I think it's as misguided to claim that tax increases are automatically a public good as it is to claim that tax cuts are automatically a public good. There is nothing inherently moral about cutting or increasing taxes in my opinion -- it's what you do with these resources to improve our civic infrastructure and the commonwealth of Minnesota that matters. (I'm sure Joel would agree with this.)
And I'm increasingly convinced that spending more money in our current systems of healthcare, education and transportation will not get us the long-term returns we need. Making our economic success and quality of life a discussion about more or less taxes misses the need to reform how we spend this money first. The "Minnesota Miracle" was not about raising taxes, and our investments in the past led to a strong economy because they were investments: they produced a high return on investment. We didn't just spend more money than other states. We spent it well. More money is not synonymous with a higher quality of life or more economic competitiveness in today's world.
Investing is a good thing. But I think the right and the left think we can just squeeze more performance out of the institutions we have now (the right) or get better outcomes with more money (the left). The evidence doesn't seem to support either position -- or to support it enough to ignore the need to fundamentally reform how we deliver healthcare, education, etc.
2) Politics and this debate: The public "gets" that their resources are not being spent in ways that increase educational outcomes, make them healthier, or reduce our rate of growth in congestion. They don't trust the system. Given this, if we want to regain this trust, I think it's critical that we demonstrate that their existing tax resources can be better-spent before we ask for more money.
It's imperative that we go beyond just putting out ideas -- we have to pay attention to the politics necessary to implement these ideas.
3) Future budget constraints: We HAVE to be serious about the long-term implications of our current entitlement spending (long-term care, education, etc.) before we call for tax increases. This violates the shared goal of investing in the future.
Posted by Sean Kershaw at July 26, 2006 5:48 AM