Give New York Times reporter Robert Pear, or perhaps an editor, credit for a provocative headline: “In Final Spending Bill, Salty Food and Belching Cows Are Winners.” This to explain a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill.
Where’s the money going?
Not to salty food or belching cows. The Times explains that, “like many of its predecessors,” the bill bulges with provisions “to satisfy special interests.” For example?
Pear quickly highlights how “ranchers were spared [from] having to report on pollution from manure,” schools from having to reduce salt or increase whole grain in their lunches, insurance companies from relinquishing tax breaks. These provisions, which incur no new spending, are lumped with one that does involve spending at taxpayer expense, a subsidy for promoting Nevada.
There’s something odd about this sampling of budgetary ingredients. Isn’t there a difference between being left alone and receiving a subsidy or other favor at the expense of others? Because that’s the kind of fundamental distinction blurred or obliterated when all budgetary things applying to particular groups are treated as “stuff to satisfy special interests.”
Politicians concoct zillions of ways to burden and bully people; proposed targets are, sure, “special interests” who may then beg for reprieves. But unlike the beneficiaries of specific subsidies or competitor-stomping regulations, we’ve all got a stake in not being harassed.
Protecting our lives and freedom is what government is properly for. And minding our own business is the opposite of interfering with somebody else’s.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.