Conservatives from key states recently voted for subsidies to sugar farmers.  Realtors demand mortgage subsidies despite the disaster of the housing finance bubble. Food Stamps are advertised on TV as a “benefit” that you don’t want to miss, and now an astounding one in seven Americans receive this subsidy.  Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina tries to represent his state on deepening Charleston’s port, but also his nation on how best to pay for it, without a good outcome so far.

How are we ever going to stop the avalanche of spending, when there will always be the conflict of the local interest to get the funds, pitted against the national requirement to stop paying?

How do we get our elected officials to vote against the entitlements that pay their constituents, their unions, their businesses, and their industries?

We can’t.  Not in this political environment.  So what must we do?

Almost two years ago in this space we proposed the following:

For 2011, every branch and department of government at every level, except Defense, will have to get by on ten percent less income, including salaries. Let the various governments’ skilled managers decide how to accomplish this reduction in each department at every level; it will likely be a learning experience for them

Even though the problem is worse now, I would settle for two consecutive years of five percent reductions!

And what is the reduction to be based on: this year’s budget, or actual expenditures to date?  Next year’s reduction should be calculated from this year’s budget, and if all of the funds have not been spent this year, the manager can keep those funds and use them next year. No reason to rush to spend before year end, as usually happens. Better to encourage thrift and good stewardship.

We’ve proven that no official will vote to kill his or her local subsidies.  But everyone should be able to vote for an across-the-board reduction, shared by every citizen and every business.  Even Social Security and ethanol subsidies!  Everyone.

It actually sounds “fair”, which might even appeal to the White House.
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