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Things politicians should say more often

Similarly to the sentiment expressed by Cowperthwaite, the outgoing Governor of California Jerry Brown has said:

You know what a governor is on an engine? The governor prevents the engine from getting out of control. Well, that is what the governor has to do in state government.

He also said:

The Democratic constituencies want more money and more laws. I take a different view. We have too many damn laws. The coercive power of the state should be invoked sparingly.

I do not know very much about Governor Brown’s policies or actions. He improved California’s finances and turned a large deficit into a large surplus. He had a habit of vetoing bills, and complained in the NYT article that “almost all of the bills that I have vetoed have been reintroduced”, but I do not know if a veto rate of 16% is high enough. In any case these are the sorts of thing I want to hear more of.

In the USA the role of the state seems to be discussed more widely than it is here in the UK, where mostly the criticism of the government is that it should “do more”. In British politics the recent counter-example of Jacob Rees-Mogg springs to mind:

I don’t think it is the job of the government to tell me how much sugar to eat.

I would welcome more examples. From anywhere.

14 comments to Things politicians should say more often

  • Mr Ed

    Er, is this Governor Moonbeam of old that we are talking about?

    A day late and a perhaps few billon dollars short (over the decades) on his State’s spending, but hey, it appears that he has left the Golden State with a budget surplus. I don’t know the figures on spending but I guess it comes down to ‘not increasing as fast as it might have been‘.

    Still, even if he wanted to do a really grand job, he’d have the Proposition system to face and the State and Federal judges.

  • pete

    I’m sure Mr Rees-Mogg can afford as much private health care as he needs to deal with the effects of any bad dietary habits he might have.

    Most of us rely on the taxpayer funded NHS, and so it seems entirely reasonable for the government to try to reduce our sugar consumption by offering advice and making new laws. Such measures can only help reduce the burden on the NHS and so keep taxes down, something Conservative Mr Rees-Mogg surely supports.

  • staghounds

    It’s not what they say, it’s what they do.

    Much as I dislike him on some issues, Brown is one of the few executives who has stood effectively against some government spending. A $40 billion change on the balance sheet is hard to argue with.

    I’m confident his successors will disappear that surplus well before it’s needed to cover the pension bomb.

  • Paul Marks

    Still nothing on Samizdata on the Corporate State assault on Freedom of Speech – on the Social Media banns (on obviously political grounds) of various people, and the work of the “Payment Processors” to enforce the Silicon Valley Collectivist cartel – the effort to strangle dissent, and restore the “gatekeeper” media to total power. Stuff has been forwarded – but one can only lead a horse to water, one can not make the horse drink (at least not without unpleasantness).

    However, one must comment on what is actually on the site – not just pine for what should be here and is not here.

    “pete” provides, I suspect unintentionally, an excellent example of the “Road to Serfdom” – how “compassionate” government turns the population into slaves.

    “it seems entirely reasonable for the government” to engage in “making new laws” in order to reduce our sugar consumption (and anything else) to “reduce the burden on the NHS” – after all risky behaviour (any form of behaviour the government does not like) “increases the burden on the NHS” so we must all obey the government and its “new laws” in controlling every aspect of life that influences our health (which all aspects of our life do).

    Yes “pete” that is “entirely reasonable” if one is a FASCIST – for what you have done (unintentionally) is give us the arguments of the Italian interwar leader Mussolini and such Fascist philosophers as Gentile (apart from the point about lower taxes – they did care about that, although you have no intention of really “keeping taxes down”). No individual rights AGAINST the state – “rights” as goods and services from the government. And anyone who opposed the doctrine of an all mighty state (“nothing outside the state”) denounced as a “hopeless reactionary – stuck in the past, rejecting the modern age”, most likely exactly what you would say about Jacob Rees-Mogg.

    By the way nice bit about “I’m sure Mr Rees-Mogg can afford as much private health care as he needs…” nice FASCIST bit of class war there “pete”, Mussolini would have strongly approved. After all although he became a heretic in orthodox Marxist eyes (having been the leading Marxist in Italy) Mussolini remained an ardent admirer or Karl Marx till the day he died.

    It is good to have “pete” to give us all the Fascist (collectivist) line on the issues of the day. But I must turn to the actual post – which I will do in my next comment.

  • Paul Marks

    My first thought (before I thought about the post more deeply) when I looked at this post was “this is utterly absurd – is it meant to be ironic?” As Governor Brown is a wild tax-and-spend-and-regulate statist and has been his entire adult life.

    Even back in the 1970s it was Governor Brown (then a young Governor – and Governor largely because his father had been Governor of California) who introduced “collective bargaining” into Californian government (something that even President Franklin Roosevelt warned against in relation to government employees – warning that it would turn government into a conspiracy against the taxpayers). The impossible level of Californian (local and State) government pensions and benefits is directly the fault of Jerry Brown.

    But then I thought about the post more – and remembered what a horror show most Californian Democrat politicians are today.

    It is quite possible that COMPARED TO THEM Jerry Brown looks like a Conservative. After all he has not spent all the money from the wild high taxes imposed on “the rich” and “big business” (apart from certain business enterprises who have “sweet heart” deals with the government) on wild spending – only almost all of the money (not quite all of it). Governor Gavin Newson (from San Francisco) will soon make people wish Jerry Brown was still Governor.

    American tax law says that income that has already gone to State and local tax is not part of the income that is subject to the Federal income tax – which, of course, is an indirect subsidy to high tax areas (such as California and New York City), but Federal tax law has now changed (and Nancy Pelosi, from San Francisco, is unlikely to be able to change it back) – so that rich people can no longer so easily hide their income from the Federal tax collectors by saying “but the State and local tax collectors have….” – they will now be told (essentially) “what the State and local tax collectors have already done to you is your problem – Uncle Sam wants money off you and he WANTS IT NOW”.

    Normally I would not like such taxation – but it is being directed against rich “liberals” (the sort of richlings who live in place like San Francisco – for example Nancy Pelosi’s relatives who always seem to get government contracts) who have said FOR DECADES that they want to pay higher taxes and that they hate “loopholes” – so the new tax law is only taking them at their word. You want to pay higher taxes? Your wish has been granted! And you hate “loopholes”? Again your wish to end this loophole has been granted!

    “But this will mean that rich individuals and business enterprises will leave California just when Gavin Newsom wants more money for his insane spending schemes – such as giving free health care to all the illegal immigrants”.

    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

    As for regulations – yes California has, PERHAPS (there is a lot of competition for the title) the worst laws of any State, but perhaps they would have been even more insane if Governor Brown had been Governor Newsom – and there now is a Governor Newsom.

    According to Forbes magazine the regulations of Maine (of all places) are even worse than those of California – but I find that very hard to believe. But, anyway, Governor Newsom and the various science fiction style monsters that control he California State Legislature will soon fix that – and restore California to its rightful place of having the worst laws in the nation.

    Also according to Forbes magazine, Massachusetts (Mitt Romney’s old stamping ground – Romneycare and all) imposes even higher financial burdens than California does – again I find that hard to believe, but I am sure that Gavin Newsom and the State Legislature of California will soon fix that outrage!

    There is even a campaign to get rid of Proposition 13 (passed in 1978 – partly in reaction to Governor Moonbeam) which holds down Property Taxes – after all New Jersey shows what a success sky high property taxes are (sarcasm alert).

    It will be interesting (for those of you who are alive) to watch how California and South Dakota go over the next four years – all the natural advantages are with the former (California), a nice climate, a sea coast, a border with another nation….. California also has all those high tech business enterprises (the Silicon Valley Cartel) and the “financial services industry” (those charming bankers, always getting endless slush money from the Federal Reserve – and, of course, the “Payment Processors” always on the watch to crush any competition to the Silicon Valley Cartel), and the leading universities.

    All South Dakota has is a terrible climate (freezing cold in winter, baking hot in summer) and it is in the middle of nowhere.

    Let us see what place does better over the next four years.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    When Jerry Brown last ran for President, one of his big issues was replacing the mess of US federal taxes with a 12% flat tax. He is not a libertarian and never has been, but he’s been surprisingly closer to a libertarian than the vast majority of politicians.

    One of the great mistakes of the libertarian movement has been to presume that people on the “right” are more libertarian. Experience shows otherwise.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Most of us rely on the taxpayer funded NHS, and so it seems entirely reasonable for the government to try to reduce our sugar consumption by offering advice and making new laws. Such measures can only help reduce the burden on the NHS and so keep taxes down

    “Rely” is an unfortunate and inappropriate word here, government regulation and enforcement have caused the situation where only the likes of Rees-Mogg can afford an alternative, who is effectively paying for two health care insurance premiums because he can. I am sure if there was an “opt out” on NI then a great many of us could afford a private option and would probably take it too.

    Whilst you may be right in your analysis about the self-inflicted responsibility of the government, the one flaw in that argument is what happens if the government is wrong about sugar, like they were about egg cholesterol, saturated fats, and many other instances of misleading health advice, etc? What if their advice actually makes thing worse and costs more money? Don’t you consider it would be better that, as Mr Rees-Mogg seems to imply, we all look after our own health, and eventually the better options will play out and everyone will “conform”? Wouldn’t that work out cheaper and easier in the long run?

  • Still nothing on Samizdata on the Corporate State assault on Freedom of Speech

    You’re a contributor. Why don’t you write the article yourself?

    (But Ted, don’t you know that creating straw men in long parenthetical asides is so much more brilliant?)

  • the one flaw in that argument is what happens if the government is wrong about sugar, like they were about egg cholesterol, saturated fats, and many other instances of misleading health advice, etc?


  • Julie near Chicago

    Ted, regarding your parenthetical: In that case you might enjoy the brilliance of my own parentheticals, plural, that I just left at

    https://www.samizdata.net/2019/01/samizdata-quote-of-the-day-1133/#comment-765442 😆

  • Julie near Chicago

    Also, I’m with Woody there! Come-onna-my-y-house, I gonna give you bu-utt-er! Also eggs and meat. and cream pies and fried chicken, with the nice crisp skin! 😀

  • Ed Snack

    Budget surplus because they exclude the cost of pensions from their budget figures. Include existing and future liabilities and there’s a large deficit.

  • Paul Marks

    “Experience shows otherwise” – no it does NOT Perry Metzger.

    Actually experience shows the reverse of what you say.

    It is States where Republicans have long controlled the State Legislature and Governorships that tend to be the relativelly low tax and relativelly low regulation States – and States where the Democrats have long controlled the Governorship and State Legislature (especially the State Legislature) tend to be the HIGH tax, HIGH government spending and HIGH regulation States.

    “But does this include California – which is the State that Perry Metzger was pointing to under Governor Brown?”

    Of course it does. California is one of the highest tax-spend-and-regulate States in the United States, and it also has one of the most (most – not least Perry Metzger) “Progressive” income tax laws. With one of the highest rates on “the rich”.

    I should not have needed to type this – anyone can find it out, if they spend a few minutes doing background work. Indeed most ordinary people do not even need to do the background work – because they already know this.

    If the left believe in anything they believe in “Social Justice” – and “Social Justice” is liberticide, the extermination of liberty. Both economic and in such things as Freedom of Speech.

    Again – I should not needed to have needed to type that. It is not exactly secret knowledge.

  • Patrick Crozier

    I suspect The Dead Kennedys had it right:

    I am Governor Jerry Brown
    My aura smiles and never frowns
    Soon I will be president

    Carter power will soon go ‘way
    I will be Führer one day
    I will command all of you
    Your kids will meditate in school
    Your kids will meditate in school

    California Über Alles
    California Über Alles
    Über Alles California
    Über Alles California

    Zen fascists will control you
    Hundred percent natural
    You will jog for the master race
    And always wear the happy face
    Close your eyes, can’t happen here
    Big Bro’ on white horse is near
    The hippies won’t come back, you say
    Mellow out or you will pay
    Mellow out or you will pay

    Now it is nineteen eighty-four
    Knock-knock at your front door
    It’s the suede denim secret police
    They have come for your uncool niece

    Come quietly to the camp
    You’d look nice as a drawstring lamp
    Don’t you worry, it’s only a shower
    For your clothes, here’s a pretty flower

    Die on organic poison gas
    Serpent’s egg’s already hatched
    You will croak, you little clown
    When you mess with President Brown