WE often hear journalists mostly working for radio-television stations and politicians mostly belonging to opposition parties, “demanding, in the name of the people,” the intervention of the state for resolving a wide range of problems.
In the minds of those who are constantly making such calls, the state is a single parent who, having made the adoption, is under an obligation to bear its consequences and, as a minimum, carry its financial burdens.
Where should the money come from is an issue that is not meant to be of concern to you or me. It is a problem, which the state, itself, must resolve. Let the state borrow or steal the money needed. Certainly, this is a problem, which rarely preoccupies the minds of those advocating a higher level of state spending.
What a misconception. The state is not an unrelated third party. The state is you. The state may spend the money it has collected by levying taxes; it may also spend the money it has saved by cutting other costs for example, by reducing the wages of state employees, including those employed by state radio and television.
Alternatively, the state may borrow money and carry on borrowing until it becomes bankrupt as happened in the recent past.
Someone may argue that “those who have” must share their wealth with the state, which will then be able to allocate this wealth among the “have-nots”. Hidden in this group are the “crypto-rich” and those who systematically rob the state. Among them, one would find journalists and politicians, who enthusiastically promote a higher level of state intervention and spending.
The tragedy is that the consequences of excessive state spending are most felt by those who are in real need of the help and support which can be provided by society acting collectively.
If the taxes levied add up to excessive taxation, the well-off will find ways to avoid the taxing of their income and their wealth and they have proved their ability to do so on many occasions in the past. The people who will suffer are the needy.
It follows that the proponents of the “give and give again” approach on the part of the state must carefully reconsider the position, which they often readily assume, with little or no thought. Either intentionally or unintentionally, their irresponsible behaviour results in poor people becoming poorer. Unless, of course, this is their objective because they hope that it will become easier to secure political support of desperately poor people.
What is, perhaps, needed is the enactment of a new law, which should render it obligatory for those advocating increased state spending to specify what new taxes they intend to impose to cover the proposed increased expenditure or which other expenses they intend to curtail. Else, any proposal entailing the increase of state expenditures, without the specification of the new taxes that will be levied or the other expenses that will be curtailed, should render the promoter of such a course of action personally liable to cover the cost that will thus be generated.
In the event that the wealth of the advocate of such an idea is not sufficient to cover the cost of implementing the idea, he or she should be automatically hanged, upside-down, in Eleftheria Square, thus setting an example to be avoided. Based on recent experience, it appears that enacting such legislation is likely to be a relatively easy task that can be accomplished quickly.
Christos P. Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail and Alithia