Tuesday, January 04, 2011
In a Forbes piece on California's "Third Brown Era," Joel Kotkin paints the following portrait of Edmund "Pat" Brown, father of that state's current governor.
Pat Brown was a committed progressive who actually believed in both social and economic progress. He did not focus on re-distributing wealth or expanding bureaucratic controls; his priority was to use government to help generate greater opportunities for Californians.Really?
Kotkin contradicts his claim that the elder Brown did not redistribute wealth or expand his state's bureaucracy in the very next paragraph!
Under Pat roughly 20% of the state budget was devoted to capital outlays. He expanded wealth creating infrastructure such as freeways and the State Water Project, which created vast expanses of new, highly fertile farmland. He also increased the state’s parklands so that middle-class Californians could enjoy the state’s unmatched natural beauty.This may be Kotkin's idea of contrasting father and son, but I'm either seeing a blank page or a polar bear sleeping in the snow here.
Using state money for "capital outlays" unrelated to the proper purpose of government -- and such improper outlays include such things as highways, schools, and parks -- is a form redistribution of wealth to the extent that such money comes from taxation, and the state running (or supervising) any given sector of the economy necessarily entails a government bureaucracy. That the recipients of the loot aren't all darlings of the left does not alter those facts.
Our recent election results indicate that the American people are not comfortable with the government confiscating our wealth or running our economy. But to get that monkey off our backs, we have to be very clear about the exact nature of the problem. The last thing we need to do now is bless off the above laying-of-groundwork for massive government expansion as economic freedom -- any more than we should be fooled by mere changes in the form of government control, such as many that are passed off as "privatization."
Today: Corrected a typo.