What happened?

While reading the following portion of this morning’s Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Interview, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a metaphor occurred to me.

“What happened before in state government was that they would just spend, and then in April they would come to the governor’s office and say, ‘Oh, oops. Sorry, we need another 30 million. We need another 50 million.’ And there would be a huge number of supplemental spending bills that would get passed on June 30th along with the budget for the next fiscal year,” often with tax hikes to pay for them, says Mr. Christie. “And I said to my folks, ‘If you don’t manage to budget, you’re going to get fired.'”

Here’s the metaphor:  It’s suicide when a parasite begins think of itself as the host, as it will proceed to consume the host and then wonder what happened as it dies.

Here government is the parasite and the private market is the host.

I do not intend to use the word parasite in its pejorative.  I intend to use its biological meaning.  There are many cases of parasite organisms that provide benefits to the host and I do believe that government can provide benefits to its host.

Government is a parasite that feeds from the private market.   While it does provide benefits, like defense and a backing to the rule of law, it would not exist if it were not for a valuable resource from which it could draw its life force.

In some cases, that resource may be natural.  Middle Eastern governments are sustained by the proceeds of oil.  Warlord governments in Africa form around resources such as diamonds.  The crony kleptocracy of Russia persists on the bounty of Russia’s natural resources.

And our representative democratic government persists on the wealth generated in the private market.

But, few people see that.  They reflexively see each new perceived problem as a job for government to solve, without considering private alternatives, and then when the government runs out of money, they simply say, raise taxes.

Governor Christie describes this mindset in New Jersey.  “Ooops.  Sorry, we need another 30 million.”

This mindset leads the parasite to incrementally consume the host and then wonder why it’s dying.  Where did the jobs go?  Where are the new jobs!? Why are tax revenues declining?  Raise taxes on the rich!


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