Progressives: I’m Taking Your Ball and Going Home

Maybe I should put that headline in quotes, since I didn’t write the title or what follows.


Submitted from Soozcat, wife of Captain Midnight, in an off-line. Enjoy!

When our niece was still in grade school, we decided it was time to teach her about money and budgeting. Captain Midnight planned ahead, cashed out an entire paycheck, and brought home the money in bills and coins. We spread it out on the kitchen table in front of our wide-eyed niece and asked her, “So what could we do with this money?”

“Disneyland!” was the first word out of her mouth.

We agreed that, yes, we could take this money and go to Disneyland with it. But there were things we needed to take care of first. We put 10% of the money aside for tithing. Then we removed our monthly rent payment. Next came the costs of various utilities: electricity, gas, water, Internet access. We set aside money for groceries, money for gasoline, money for clothes. And we made a little pile of money to pay for things we liked to do: eat out once in a while, go to the movies, visit the beach. There was hardly anything left over to pay for a Disneyland trip.

Fortunately, our niece was old enough to understand what we were trying to demonstrate. She already knew that things cost money. She had deduced, from our frequent mentions that we needed to pay the bills first, that responsible people pay what they owe. And she realized that, as fun as visiting Disneyland was, it was even more important to have a warm, secure, well-stocked home to come back to afterward.

Of course, we needed to wait for our niece to be old enough. Had we tried teaching her about money when she was less mentally mature and more prone to expecting instant gratification, she might have seen all that cash on the table, thrown a fit and demanded that we use the money to go to Disneyland RIGHT. NOW. It wouldn’t have mattered that none of it was her money, nor that we needed it to pay for crucial services — Disneyland was calling to her, and she wasn’t getting any younger.

It occurred to me recently that, when it comes to tax money, progressives never grow out of this rapacious mental stage. Tax monies are there primarily for their personal gratification — to fund untested pet projects, to dole out more pork products than a salumeria to the usual suspects, and presumably these days to wiretap every man, woman and child in America. And if any’s left over, it gets laundered and finds its way into their bank accounts. The idea that these monies are not inherently theirs never seems to cross their minds, nor does the concern that they should first take care of their constitutionally mandated responsibilities. They want Disneyland and they want it now!

And if you dare try to curb their spending, they’ll threaten to shut off the water, power and telephone so they can keep paying for Disneyland. In fact, they do this so consistently that it’s become something of a cliché.

To illustrate, let’s take an example from a decade ago. In Washington state, licensing fees for car tabs were alarmingly high. Local citizen and political gadfly Tim Eyman proposed an initiative, I-776, to lower the car tab license fees to a more reasonable $30 and gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. It passed, and a King County Superior Court judge promptly tossed out the initiative, claiming it was unconstitutional, so it went to the State Supreme Court, who ended up overruling the lower court and upholding the people’s vote. At the time of the ruling in I-776’s favor, King County Executive Ron Sims — presumably furious about losing *his* tax monies to this upstart — sourly stated that the people had voted in favor of less police and fire protection.

Catch that last bit? Sims, a consummate career politician, was not-so-subtly threatening to hurt the voters for choosing to rein in public spending of their taxes. You might not know this if you don’t live in Washington, but the tax monies gathered by car tab fees were earmarked specifically for road improvement, public transportation, and the billion-dollar boondoggle known as Sound Transit, the light-rail system that seems to shrink ever smaller and cost ever more. NONE of those taxes were ever earmarked for vital services such as police and fire — that was just Sims being a bully, saying to the voters, “If you don’t play this game by my rules, I’m taking your ball and going home.” He was threatening to cut off the utilities so he could keep going to Disneyland.

This nonsense is still going on. Late on May 23, an 18-wheeler on southbound I-5 clipped the edge of a bridge over the Skagit River in Washington; a section of the bridge collapsed, sending cars into the water. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but as of this writing the bridge is still out of commission. It’s caused major traffic problems along this stretch of I-5, as the downed bridge was the only major river crossing in the area. It will need replacing, and soon. There are many such “problem” bridges in Washington that need to be repaired, and when the media came calling to ask questions, most politicians blamed the go-to scapegoat, President Bush, for not investing in vital infrastructure. For some reason no one — not politicians, not the media, not even Joe Sixpack — seems to be asking the obvious questions: If the U.S. government spent SIX TRILLION DOLLARS in 2012 alone, how is it that none of that money went to fix structurally outdated bridges? Was it really crucial to invest in Obamaphones and food stamps instead?

But hey, Disneyland first! So says King Toddler, Owner of All He Surveys, and King Toddler must be appeased at all costs. That’s just how it is for progressives. They want what they want, when they want it, and if you dare to protest their use of your money — then they’ll really make you pay.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Rotten Chestnuts.

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