Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

What Unlimited Government Costs Us

Tim Eyman, doll, petition, taxes, Washington, initiative, democracy, voters

“Olympia can’t restrain itself,” Tim Eyman wrote the other day, a judgment on legislative irresponsibility hardly unique to the Evergreen State. Citizens around the country have cause to lament the difficulty of obtaining anything close to a good legislature.

Too often the merely “bad” would constitute a significant improvement.

Which is why legislators need to be put on a short leash. Limits on government must be written into law, where possible into either the U.S. Constitution or state constitutions, so the limits cannot be tampered with by legislators, good or bad.

Washington State initiative guru Tim Eyman, cited above, has made a career of working for just those kinds of limits. In 2007, Eyman and the citizen group Voters Want More Choices petitioned onto the statewide ballot a requirement that any tax increase must receive a two-thirds vote from both legislative chambers.

Voters passed the measure* in 2007, 2011 and 2012.

In an email to supporters this month, Eyman presents data — an “amazing real-world comparison” — to help us understand how effective the limits were . . . while they lasted.

He notes that “with the 2/3 rule in effect from 2008-2012, those 5 legislative sessions cost the taxpayers $6.894 billion” in increased taxes.

And he compares that to the five years (2013-2017) since the state’s highest court struck down the voters’ two-thirds mandate: “WITHOUT the 2/3 rule, those 5 legislative sessions cost the taxpayers $23.679 billion.”

“Without the fiscal discipline imposed by citizen initiatives,” Eyman concludes, “politicians cannot hold back.”

Now we have hard evidence for what unlimited government costs us: more than three times more!

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* Washington State’s ballot initiative process allows voters to pass simple statutes but not constitutional amendments. For two years after passage, legislators must garner a two-thirds vote to override a ballot initiative. After those two years, only a simple majority is required.

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By: CS Admin


  1. JFB says:

    There is nothing which I am aware of which will restrain governments from profligate spending and their eventual demise caused by fiscal mismanagement. It is the fatal flaw of all democracies that when the electorate determines they can spend the treasury on themselves they are doomed, as spending others’ money on one’s self or in one’s self-interest (reelection or electorial advancement where there are term limits) is simply too much temptation to be resisted, especially future taxpayer’s resources. This is evidenced from the national government to the villages and townships.
    In Michigan, we HAVE a constitutional provision since 1963 which mandates all obligations incurred must be funded in the year they are incurred. This has not stopped the legislature and executive branches, with the help of the judiciary, from underfunding the pension system and driving Michigan down the road to insolvency, much like many other States in the Union without such a prohibition. The balanced budget requirements for the inferior government subdivisions has not stopped them from joining the same caravan.
    There is no known remedy or cure for this disease of democracy excepting those we see in history, which is eventual collapse.
    The State of Washinton is not alone, and the driving issue is not tax increases and the difficulty in passing them. The real issue is spending and more specifically, spending beyond current revenue.
    As a well known historical figure quipped to a group of women observing his tortured walk up a hill, weep not for me, but for your children.

    • Edward says:

      According to JFB only democrocies are afflicted with this incurable disease. Perhaps it is only democracies that contain the cure.

    • Pat says:

      “There is no known remedy or cure for this disease of democracy excepting those we see in history, which is eventual collapse.”

      Aah, but there is.   Next time you vote, try voting against the incumbent.

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