Grover Norquist and Ed Rendell discuss taxes and the economy

September 18, 2011 | By | Reply More

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell worked overtime keeping up with the arguments of  “drown government in a bathtubGrover Norquist.

Interesting, how Rendell admits many points of agreement with Norquist, yet Norquist can’t summon up the courage to admit any points of agreement with Rendell.  This unwillingness to engage has come to be one of the most salient badges of modern conservatism.

I agree with Norquist that there are many questionable government expenditures, state and federal.  But who would disagree with this?  The question then becomes “What are we going to do going forward?”  Rendell agrees that that there are wasteful expenditures and that we need identify them and cut them, but asserts that there are many projects deserving the investment of tax dollars because society will be much better off with government making these valuable investments that would not be supported by private profit-taking.

Norquist displays an extremely narrow view of the appropriate role for government.  He detests mass transit, though he tolerates road construction.  He displays no sympathy for poor or working people who depend on mass transit.  He sees all public union pensions as wasteful (regardless of the fact that many public employees have historically taken a hit in annual salary with the expectation that this deficit would be made up in their pension plan). He detests environmentalists, without displaying any acknowledgment that their goals are at least sometimes laudable. He argues that because corruption and “free riders” are inherent to the existence of government, we should throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Norquist argues (at 5 min. mark)  that there are only two metrics of economic growth:  A) economic growth (= per capita income) and B) the “size of government” (= government spending as a percentage of GDP).  Entirely lacking from his world view is any measure of quality of life.  That subterranean rift divides Norquist’s view from my own.  I believe that we need to take into account a moral obligation to maintain a quality of life that assumes that not all Americans can afford the basic human necessities that they deserve (e.g., a basic level of health care), and that these things should be considered by our government to be basic human rights.

This is the first time I’ve seen Norquist speak. I can sense his Ayn Randian free market fundamentalism, even though it wasn’t explored openly in this video. Instead, that dark id that drives him along is the man hiding behind the curtain labelled simply (“No Taxation!”). Norquist’s conversation with Governor Rendell (who is a well-informed and proficient public speaker) is a civil and informative conversation that allowed me to better understand the various ways in which I occasionally agree, but mostly disagree with Norquist’s viewpoint.

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Category: Economy, Free Market

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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