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Fiscal ResponsibilityMost people still believe in governments. True, they may not trust them (see In Government We Distrust ), but they still believe that governments are necessary, the democratic system is OK and if only we could find the right politician everything would work out just fine. They are clearly deluded.

If you take the time and speak with many of these people you can begin to peel away the different layers of their thinking and so reach the core of their beliefs. Let's do just that.

Layer # 1 - I don't like this guy/gal

Most people have a gut-feeling reaction to certain politicians. Too tall. Too short. Too sneaky. Too ugly. Too slimy. Too slick. And so on. They don't trust them because of their first impressions. But if you keep talking to them, you will notice that there is something else below this layer.

Layer # 2 - I don't like their policies

Upon reflection, most of these people who dislike politicians out of gut reactions reach the conclusion that there is a link between their reaction and politicians' behaviours. Their gut reaction is an instinctive reaction triggered by disagreement (disgust) about politicians' policies. As a matter of fact, their reaction is simply a way to personalize (put a face) to the "wrong" government decisions. But then if you keep insisting as to why certain policies are "wrong" they provide further answers beyond this layer.

Layer #3 - I don't like their rationale

Through probing and elicitation these people reach the conclusion that certain government policies are erroneous because the rationale (or lack of thereof) upon which these policies are based are themselves wrong. There are many types of rationales that people use to describe this disagreement, for example moral, ethical, practical, legal, humanistic, compassionate, and so on. Typically there aren't two people that will have the exact same rationale to oppose a given policy. This is to be expected since we are all different and in ultimate analysis all these "rationales" are subjective and personal. However, if you keep insisting they will tell you that the problem is not only that certain policies are erroneous but that the "fix" itself is incorrect.

Layer #4 - I don't like their solution

When people opposing certain policies on the basis of rationales are pushed a step further, they rationalize their subjective choices by stating that even if such policies are implemented, they won't work. In other words, in ultimate analysis the policies are in error because they won't solve the problem. But if you keep insisting, these people will tell you which solution will work.

Layer #5 - I don't like you ignoring the proper solution

If you push hard enough, these people will tell you what the "correct" solution to the problem is. Therefore, they reason, they dislike certain politicians because they are ignoring the "correct" solution while trying to push the "incorrect" one. Typically they will begin their explanation with statements such as "this is what should be done" or "I would fix it this way" and so on. But then, if you ask for details all conversations inevitable end up heading towards fiscal matters.

Layer #6 - I don't like how you spend my money

In order to implement the "correct" solution, the government should spend money in such and such activities, goods or services. Unfortunately, they will tell you, in many cases this is not possible because the government is spending too much money on this and that. It would simply cost too much and we (the government) -notice how they identify themselves with governments- just don’t have enough money. Therefore, the story goes, these people dislike certain politicians because they spend money in a way that is unacceptable. In other words, certain politicians are not fiscally responsible. If you then insist in getting a view about how to ensure or manage fiscal responsibility you will always get generalities.

Layer #7 - I don't like you spending my money

If you keep pushing for an answer as to what fiscal responsibility may be, the general theme is that politicians are spending in non-essential goods and services but you will not get two similar answers ever. This is to be expected because all people are different and hence they have different priorities which entails different spending concepts which is the same as saying different fiscal responsibilities. So, these people dislike certain politicians simply because they are not spending tax money on the items that they believe it should be spent on. Therefore, they don't like such politicians spending that money at all. Frugality is the goal… as long as my priorities are satisfied first. At that point, if you keep the conversation going, it will eventually reach a moment at which these people will recognize that these politicians are not fiscally responsible but that there are others "out there" that are capable of so doing. And so in ultimate analysis the reason why people dislike certain politicians is simply because they are not fiscally responsible.

Psychological Games

Passed that layer is where the problem begins. You see, people are heavily invested in governments. They are so because they have been trained since childhood to believe and obey them (see Lost Memories ). It is extremely hard indeed to disregard all this brainwashing and mental conditioning therefore what people does to avoid a painful psychological conflict is to rationalize-out the conflict itself. This is, if all history and data show that all politicians are inherently incapable of fiscal restraint (see for example Politicians Cant Be Trusted - Again ) then we must believe that the "right" politician is "out there" and it is just a matter of finding it. This is the ultimate source of the delusion: our inability to deal with stress and failure. To deal with this inability we chose to believe beyond any rationale and common sense. But this is only half the story.

The mechanics of fiscal irresponsibility

We have dealt with this subject in many occasions, showing how the primary interest of politicians is to stay in power and in order to do so they must spend (see for example Politicians And Bureaucrats Job Security Through Misery or Government Morality ). We have also pointed out just how bad the world-wide situation is (see our DI and  DVI indices or Happy Breakeven Year for example). Yet, we have not explored the psychological side of this problem. Although it is clear that politicians have plenty of rational incentives to spend, it is not clear why they lack restraint in so doing. And the answer to this question is quite simple: it is not their money and they can always get more.

Consider this. Politicians need to spend to stay in power. They have created an ethics that allows them to do just that through lying (see Government Morality ). Lying implies lying to people as well as themselves. Through this process they see our money as their money. Therefore they are not bound by any psychological limit when it comes to spending our money. Why should they? Do you? Do you have any qualms in spending your money as you see fit? Even if it is for your own wellbeing and gratification? Of course not, why should you? In the end it is your money and nobody else's.

It is this inability to exert restraint because of their human nature (seeking their own wellbeing first coupled with self-delusion) that prevents politicians from exerting any fiscal restraint whatsoever. And so, the conclusion is inevitable. In order for us to find the "right" politician that would exert fiscal restraint, we would have to find a non-human politician.

And now the key question.

How many non-human politicians do you know?

And now, knowing the answer to this question, do you still believe that fiscal restraint is not a delusion? Of course it is!

But why stop here?

Let's assume that somehow we manage to find the right non-human (or quasi-non-human) politician that will indeed exert fiscal restraint. Great! And now what? As we have showed above, the very concept of "fiscal restraint" is subjective and personal indeed! So the second key question is this: which "fiscal restraint" is this non-human politician supposed to implement?

Conclusion

Which one indeed! Yours? Ours? Why? Who is wrong and who is right? Well… we are all wrong and right. We are all right when it comes to our point of view and we all wrong when it comes to your point of view.

The point we are trying to make is that the very concept of "fiscal responsibility" is flawed at all levels. It is impossible to find somebody that will properly execute it and it is impossible to even define it. It is for this very reason that we are Absolute Austro-Libertarians, because the only fiscal responsibility that is actually workable is yours! You are the only person on the planet that can define and execute your own concept of fiscal responsibility. Anything else is a delusion.

But then, you are only human. We understand that you do not wish to throw away all those neat concepts with which they have brainwashed you for so long. You are too invested. That's OK. It is your choice. Just one thing, don't tell us we did not warn you.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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