In Chapter 4, Fiscal Federalism, the authors spend a great deal of time discussing the various revenue structures of local, state, and the federal government.
Much of the conflict that takes place between citizens – liberals and conservatives; Democrats & Republicans; left-wing vs. right-wing; etc – can be traced to the definition of the role of government. At a base level, government exists to guarantee the security of the individual from both other individuals and other groups; without government, you have anarchy, wherein he with the might rules until supplanted by another. That said, most people in civilized society would agree that the role of government is far greater than just providing security; for example, few people would likely be in favor of abolishing all regulations regarding chemical or toxic waste discharge into waterways or airways, regardless of political persuasion. That inevitably results in the existence of government to provide services to its citizens.
In order to provide such services, there must be a revenue stream to pay for services. This week’s discussion will expand upon that thought and those provided by the authors in this Chapter.
I would like to see a robust discussion centered around the following:
1. Should the government provide services, and if so, which level of government should provide what service? Should different levels of government rely on others to provide funding for those services?
2. Who should pay for services rendered? Should all citizens pay equally, regardless of ability to pay? Are there services that should be considered a “right of civilization”, available to all regardless of income level? What about costs for issues that are of more concern to citizens in some geographic areas than others – Trump’s “wall”, for example, or cleanup of the Gulf of Mexico from the BP Deepwater spill?
3. Should all services be privatized? The military? Essential utilities such as water or sewer? How should we decide what should or should not be privatized?
4. Should the federal government have the power to require states/localities to provide services, or require those services directly upon the individual?
You may feel free to include personal political viewpoints within this discussion, but remember my earlier news posting – back up claims or statements with evidence. The importance of who pays for what is an enormous consideration in the relationship between the various levels of government, and it deserves an in-depth discussion and exploration.