Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Free" Government Programs and Other Lies

While trying to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon at home, one of my sons came to my bedroom and told me "there are some teenagers here to see you." Funny, since I have a house full of teenagers, I am the last one they want to see. The curiosity got the best of me and I walked out where I found two young people in their late teens, dressed very casually and each holding a clipboard with a stack of paper and a pen.

The conversation went something like this:

"May I help you?" I asked. "Yes, I was wondering if you wanted to sign a petition to lower the community college tuition for people in our area." I was familiar with the issue (I am one of those odd fellows that watch local news) and went along with him. "How does it work?" I asked. "All you have to do is sign this petition and if we get enough signatures it will be on the ballot for this next election and if that happens and it passes...we will have lower tuition." At this point it gets very hard for me to not get sarcastic. I would like to say, "oh we are voting for a tuition fairy who will lower our school fees" or "ah, you finally figured out how to grow a money tree," or something like this, but I decided to behave. "So if this passes, how will it lower tuition." The young man kind of looked down unsure of himself. "I'm not sure," he said. I knew the answer and informed him that the tuition would be lowered through higher taxes for everyone in the area and that many people who don't have children will be forced to pay the tuition of others. He thanked me for the information and said, "I guess you are not signing?" I said, "that is correct" and he walked away.

It is through this form of false advertising that government tends to grow. People think these programs are magical, they can simply appear with desire. It is like the Fox News poll where they asked people how government was going to pay for the various bailouts and 25 percent said the "government has its own money." You would think these are the answers of small children, but Fox assures me that only adults answered the survey.

The public attitude towards Uncle Sam being Santa Claus also reminds me of the late Sen. Russell Long (D-LA) who said "don't tax you, don't tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree." That is exactly how tuition "is lowered" for people, by burdening everyone else.

One of the best examples of the lie of "free government programs" is whenever I take a trip to Galveston, Texas and ride the state's ferry. Shortly after you take off the captain announces that "this free service was brought to you by the Texas Department of Transportation." In reality it was paid for by taxpayers through out the state, many who live 15 hours away and have never even seen the Gulf of Mexico.

A sensible policy that government on all levels should pursue is a truth in advertising. These agencies should be forced to inform boat riders what it cost the taxpayers annually or the individual impact in terms of taxes. That is the kind of transparency we need in government.
Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on CNN 650 (M-F at 11 am), AOL Radio, and CBS Radio. Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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