Once again Sarah Palin is out front leading the charge against failed government policies. This time she is looking down the road at an upcoming crisis that the Ruling Class is either ignoring completely, or getting ready to fund, depending on who you ask.
This is a brilliant policy statement from Sarah. She also takes time to explain how she averted crisis in Alaska. It's simply common sense. She made tough decisions and members of her own party fought her in the legislature, but Alaska is stronger for her efforts.
As Ronald Reagan once said:
There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.
That courage to do what is morally right is what is lacking in Washington today. Thankfully, Sarah Palin has plenty of it, and uses it.
Bailouts Reward Bad Behavior
Do insolvent states actually believe other states should bail them out? In June 2009, I was invited to introduce Michael Reagan at an event in Anchorage. In my remarks as Governor of Alaska, I warned against President Obama’s debt-ridden stimulus bill and its effect on all our state budgets. I believed that the bill’s benefits would be limited because government would grow exponentially, and I warned that the package was equivalent to a federal bribe with fat strings attached that created new unfunded mandates for state governments. At the time, most state legislatures, including Alaska’s, chose to ignore that warning. I predicted that states like California would soon be coming to the federal government asking for a bailout. After I gave that speech, I remember the mocking I received for predicting California and other big government states would continue to spend recklessly and yet expect others to bail them out. The naysayers in the media went a bit wild in their condemnation of my sounding that alarm.
Well, fast forward to today. We now know that the nearly trillion dollar stimulus package didn’t lead to the job growth promised by President Obama; instead it left already struggling state governments even deeper in debt because now they are on the hook to continue programs and projects that were started by these “free” federal funds. So now, as predicted, folks in Washington and in over-spending state capitols are whispering the dreaded “b-word”: bailouts – for individual states!
American taxpayers should not be expected to bail out wasteful state governments. Fiscally liberal states spent years running away from the hard decisions that could have put their finances on a more solid footing. Now they expect taxpayers from other states to bail them out, which will allow them to postpone the tough decisions they should have made ages ago and continue spending like there’s no tomorrow. Most Americans would say these states have made their bed and now they’ve got to lie in it. They accepted federal dollars and did not voice opposition to the unfunded federal mandates, and they even re-elected politicians who foisted debt-ridden programs on them that could never be sustained.
Instead of coming to D.C. cap in hand asking for more “free” money, they should follow the example of their more prudent sister states and take the necessary steps to sort out their own finances. They must start by reforming their insolvent pension systems. Many states have multi-billion dollar unfunded pension liability problems that they have refused to address for many years. They’ve deferred their spending problems, assuming the problem deferred would be an issue avoided; instead, it’s resulted in a crisis invited. These states still won’t reform their costly defined benefit systems for fear of offending the powerful public sector unions. Sooner or later, their pension systems will collapse unless they do what states like Alaska did, which is to swap unsustainable defined benefits, which are more like glorified Ponzi schemes, for a more prudent defined contributions system.
My home state made the switch from defined benefits to a defined contribution system, and as governor, I introduced a number of measures to build on that successful transition, while also addressing the issue of the remaining funding shortfall by prioritizing budgets to wrap our financial arms around this too-long ignored debt problem. When my state ran a surplus because we incentivized businesses, I didn’t spend it on fun and glamorous pet projects for lawmakers – though that would have made me quite popular with the earmark crowd. In fact, I vetoed more excessive spending than any governor in our state’s history, and I used the state’s surplus to bring our financial house in order by paying down our unfunded pension plans that some other governors wanted to ignore.
This fiscal prudence didn’t make me popular with the state legislature. In addition to vetoing hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending, I put billions of dollars into savings accounts for future rainy days, much like most American families do in responsibly planning for the future. I also enacted a hiring freeze and brought the education budget under control through a commitment to forward-funding. I returned much of the surplus back to the people (it was their money to start with!) through tax relief and energy rebates. I had proven as the mayor of the fastest growing city in the state that tax cuts incentivize business growth, and though the state legislature overrode some of my veto cuts and thwarted an additional tax relief request of mine, the public was supportive of efforts to rein in its government.
It’s one thing to veto spending and reduce the size of government when your state is broke. I did it when my state was flush with revenue from a surplus – though I had to fight politicians who wanted to spend like there was no tomorrow. It’s not easy to tell people no and make them act fiscally responsible and cut spending when the money is rolling in and your state is only 50 years shy of being a territory and everyone is yelling at you to spend while the money is there to build. My point is, if I could fight this fight in Alaska at a time of surplus, then other governors can and should be able to do the same at a time when their states are facing bankruptcy and postponing this fight is no longer an option.
So, let’s not continue to reward irresponsible political behavior. Instead of handing out more federal dollars, let’s give the governors of these debt-ridden states some free advice. Shake off the pressure from public sector unions to cave on this issue. Put up with the full page newspaper attack ads, the hate-filled rhetoric, and the other union strong arm tactics that I, too, had to put up with while fighting those who don’t believe a state needs to live within its means. Stand up to the special interests that are bankrupting your states. You may not be elected Miss Congeniality for fighting to get your fiscal houses in order; but in the long run, the people who hired you to do the right thing will appreciate your prudence and fiscal conservatism.
As Michael Reagan’s dad once said, “We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected…. ‘We the people’…” The people deserve leaders who will make the tough decisions to secure the future prosperity of their states.
~ Sarah Palin
Solid fiscal policy from a seasoned leader. One wonders where the GOP establishment elites will come down on this.
California particularly pisses me off. This is a land where the inmates run the asylum. Crazed liberals and union thugs run everything, with tragic results.
California is a beautiful place. It could be paradise if it had even marginally sane people in charge. Sadly, it is liberal nirvana. Every crackpot liberal idea is not only tried, but made a permanent part of Californian's lives.
Out of control radical environmentalists have played a huge part in California's failures, with the state chasing every unworkable fad there is trying to be “cutting edge” and “green.” Billions upon billions have been sent down low flush toilets over this insanity.
This craziness has caused the cost of living to skyrocket, and made it very hard to do business in the state. As such, businesses are moving away in record numbers, and taking their tax dollars with them. Putting California in an even deeper fiscal hole.
California is very rich in natural resources, but is dead set against tapping into these much needed resources because it might harm Mother Gaia, and that's more important that making sure people and the state survive. There are plenty of oil reserves that could be tapped and used to bring California closer to solvency. We're talking known fieds that are ready to go and could be working in far less than a year.
Of course, the failure to use the God given petroleum reserves is but one tragedy. We started reporting back in September of 2009 about the absolute disaster, caused by insane environmental radicals, in the San Joaquin Valley.
A bunch of loons have turned this rich and fertile farm land, once known as the world's food pantry, into a modern day dust bowl, the likes of which have not been seen since the Great Depression.
Millions of acres have been destroyed, possibly forever, unemployment is over 40 percent, and has been for some time. Farms that have been in families for generations face extinction. Hard working Californians who used to feed the world are now forced to stand in soup lines in order to eat themselves.
All of this misery and destruction has been cause by a two inch bait fish known as the Delta Smelt. The best part of all of this is this minnow is not even native to the area, and is certainly not in danger of becoming extinct.
So what's the problem, besides liberal's run amok?
Well as rich and beautiful as the Central Valley of California once was, it needed water to stay that way. This water must be pumped into the deltas. It is then used to irrigate the crops. It seems that some of these bait fish end up going through the pumps and getting ground up. This of course, upsets the radical environmentalists, and well, we can have THAT now, can we!
For the sake of a fish that isn't endangered, or even indigenous to the Valley, these radicals have destroyed a multi-billion dollar industry, the economy of an entire region, and the lives of untold thousands of Californians who would rather work hard and produce, than have to stand in line like cattle for food just to survive.
These out of control radicals have also created a national security issue and endangered the the entire nation, as we now have to import food that we used to have so much of we ate what we wanted and exported the rest. How many health scares have we seen because of tainted fruit and vegetables coming from foreign countries? Fruits and vegetables that use to be abundantly produced in the San Joaquin Valley.
California is a study in the failure of liberalism, and nothing epitomizes what is wrong with California, and liberalism, than the San Joaquin Valley and the Delta Smelt.
You can go to any state where liberalism rules the day and find similar stories of failed policies and misguided people, doing dangerous and destructive things, in the name of some abstract concept. All of these states are insolvent and on the verge of collapse because of their own insanity.
Frankly, this is how it should be though. America wasn't designed to be like any other nation that ever existed before it, or has been created since. We are the United States of America. What started out as 13 colonies and has now grown into 50 sovereign states, is a unique experiment that unfortunately has been usurped over the past century by Big Government progressives in both parties, hungry for power.
The original concept was for the United States to be just what it sounds like. A number of states, let's go ahead and say 50, to make it easy. These states were supposed to be individual sovereign entities, in control of their own affairs.
This can be broken down even further. Each person in America is a sovereign entity. "We the people," through our representatives, give the states certain rights to govern us in the name of civil society. The same is true for the federal government, as well.
Man gets his rights from nature's God. He is born with them. Our Constitution is a covenant between “We the People” and government. We allow government to have certain rights to govern society, and in turn, government is bound by this contract to protect our God-given rights, and never over step it's bounds.
Obviously this concept has been dismissed and our rights eroded over the last century. Something as Americans, we must fight against to make things right again.
For the sake of this discussion though, think of America as 50 small countries, all tied together by a central government that only exists for the mutual benefit of all, which includes things like a common defense from foreign and domestic threats, and free trade. When one looks at the Constitution, the federal government was never supposed to have much responsibility, or power. The 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
In other words, the states and the people are, by design, supposed to be more powerful than the federal government. Progressivism has worked for a century to undermine this concept in the name of setting up an all powerful command and control style of central government.
Under the Constitution, as written, states like California are free to do whatever they want, no matter how insane. In fact, that was the whole idea. Let the states be the laboratories for ideas and innovations. If they worked, all of the states were free to follow along. If they failed, the state would have to pick itself up and try something else. Only that one state would bear the cost of failure. Of course, it would also be able to enjoy 100 percent of the fruits of it's success.
This idea is gone now, with the feds pretty close to reaching that central command and control socialist utopia the progressives have pined for. With their utopia comes failure not on a local scale, but on a national scale.
Another by-product of this usurpation is the concept of “too big to fail.” This of course breeds a school of thought that one should keep failure, no matter how massive, on life support forever, even if it takes the entire nation down because of it.
One has to be able to succeed or fail. Success is obviously rewarding, but failure is a necessary part of life as well. It teaches. More importantly it weeds our poorly performing businesses, states, people, whatever, making the nation, as a whole, stronger.
If we subsidize failure, those who fail will have absolutely no incentive to succeed. Someone will always be there to bail failure out. Why put in all that effort to succeed when there are no consequences to being a failure?
This is kind of a long winded diatribe to say this: Let these failed states collapse. Do not send them one dime of federal money. Just like in business, the sooner they collapse, the faster they can be rebuilt. Rebuilt better, stronger, and smarter. Actions have consequences, and the consequences of insane policies is failure. It would be immoral to prop up failed states on the backs of those who chose to live in states with sound policies and a great environment for businesses and people to thrive in.
Let em crash, learn from their mistakes, then start over. That's the humane thing to do, and the only way the United States can survive.
Not only will the United States survive, we will become stronger, and, yes, thrive.