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A Bit More On Absolutism

March 4, 2010

Aside from the negative externalities I mentioned in the previous post, our insistence on ideological ultra-consistency also exacerbates partisanship in our politics. Politicians are punished for straying from the party line, making efforts for compromise often equivalent to political suicide. A good example of this, currently, is Abel Maldonado and the California Republican Party. CA Republicans are expected to sign a “No New Taxes” pledge, saying in writing that they will raise no new taxes if they are elected. Maldonado has been essentially banished from the establishment of the CA Republican Party since he joined with Democrats in the Legislature to pass a budget that included tax hikes.

Now, I understand that Republicans don’t like tax hikes. However, to say that they will never in any circumstances raise taxes is simply ridiculous. If Democrats signed a “No Spending Cuts” pledge, that’d be ridiculous, too. What if taxes could, in fact, save the government and citizens money in certain ways that more fairly allocated the public burden? For instance, what if we taxed cigarettes in order to pay for the money the state spends caring for smoking-related illnesses? The people who are creating the costs, smokers, pay for something that otherwise would burden people who are not responsible for those costs. Reasonable, right? On the other side, the Democrats’ unwillingness to rework public pensions is a similar though not as stark example of this phenomenon.

Prop. 14, a measure on the June ballot California backed by Senator , could make changes that would help counter this trend but a big part of this problem comes down to us voters being more understanding and accepting of nuance.

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