Hard to agree on role of government
In response to my letter pointing out why free enterprise alone cannot rectify the lack of affordable housing, Mike Curtis writes (Aug. 26, TGI Forum) that the best government is that “which governs least.”
He does not offer an explanation why public anorexia best serves civic goals, an omission consistent with my comment that many conservatives have a religious belief in the free enterprise system so that its infallibility is simply assumed. He describes government as “bloated” and decries the “onerous, and unreasonable” regulations to which he attributes the lack of affordable housing.
My letter agreed with him to the extent that it recognized that without zoning, density, set-back, building codes and similar government regulation, free enterprise would build affordable but substandard slum housing. This “solution” to the housing crisis is apparently quite acceptable to conservatives, as shanties are all that the less than wealthy deserve. I demur.
The sole example of unnecessary government interference which Mike’s letter gives is the TAT, a tax supported by a majority of the members of the largely conservative Chamber of Commerce when enacted in 1986.
That tax built the Hawaii Convention Center, but the portion now spent on promoting Hawaii tourism is, as Mike points out, probably no longer needed, although in 1986 the tourist industry was unwilling itself to fund such image-making.
Mike amazingly blames progressives for budget deficits, although the major records of massive deficit spending in non-recession periods have been set by conservatives. I have never hesitated to point out that spending money is necessary to solve problems not amenable to the free enterprise system because no profit is anticipated.
But conservatives view any tax as stealing from their pockets (ignoring that the wealthy, by any economic analysis, obtain the most benefit from government services). Spending more on a better car is fine, but spending more on a better society is stupid?
So Mike would have the government do as little as possible. What about Hawaii’s issues with housing, the homeless, education, effects of climate change, pollution, infrastructure, etc.?
As Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said about the French people starving for lack of bread: “Let them eat cake.”
Jed Somit, Kapaa