Friday, March 10, 2006

Taxing for security

Deinonychus antirrhopus has a post that I'll summarize like so:
  1. Congress gives every state a certain minimum in security money.
  2. States with hardly any security problems have a surplus to spend on them and so spend on tangential security issues.
  3. Congress has no incentive to fix this.
  4. The solution is to make states spend on their own security.
I agree with the problem assessment.

I disagree with the proposed solution.
  • Some states with great threats do not have correspondingly great budgets to address them. For example, Alaska isn't raking in the dough, but its pipeline is vulnerable and valuable.
  • Pushing the cost to the states doesn't solve the incentive problem. The feds who wrote the minimum grant laws will be the same ones writing the "you must spend" laws. Furthermore, security is always a tough problem for a legislator. It can potentially cost a lot of money, and—if you're lucky—you'll never need it.
  • The right place for national security is at the national level. If Louisiana has to take care of its own hurricane problems and can't (because its tax revenues are also somewhat below average and hurricanes are, shall we say, expensive), then gas prices go up in other parts of the country. I'd rather pay the feds to fix the problem for me than rely on the taxpayers in another state.
The discussion over there also veered off into the perceived effectiveness of government in general and a bit of finger pointing. If you want all the gory details, by all means, do not settle for my simple summary. There's interesting reading to be had by following the links.
Post a Comment