The BDN editorial board’s recent commentary on the state budget shortfall reminds us how different one person’s reality can be from another. Their reminder that raising taxes is an option for balancing the budget is a vapid lecture on zero-sum governing. Talk about tone deaf. Have they not seen the thousands of Mainers who are struggling as a result of heavy-handed state power? It is as if they believe the people of Maine should pay for the consequences of unchecked government action over the last six months. We already have!
Government exists to protect the rights of the people; the people do not exist to perpetuate government.
After months of the governor stomping out economic activity, wherever and however it occurs (regardless of any substantial threat to public welfare), the BDN editorial board wants to remind us that we can solve our collective problems by inflicting more economic pain. Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson allowed Governor Mills to trample all over Mainers’ rights and livelihoods in the absence of a balanced, focused strategy. Mainers shouldn’t have to pay twice for their government’s mistakes.
Gov. Mills and the administration suffocated the economy by forcibly shutting down businesses, nonprofits and gatherings, the very lifeblood of our state. After months of a failing economy, health care layoffs, food supply shocks and worsening public health issues like depression and addiction, it’s time we understand that it is best to let people live their own lives instead of attempting to control their behavior.
Of course, the virus would have suppressed economic activity and social interaction on its own, but what we’ve seen from our state government has been ridiculous. This drawn-out “state of emergency” has set our state back years and shown us that Gov. Mills does not trust the people.
Whatever you think about the severity of the virus, the economic pain inflicted upon Maine people is much worse than the looming budget shortfall. Think about the small business owners who, in good faith, believed the empty promises from politicians who said they would only have to shut down their operations for two or three weeks to “flatten the curve.”
Now imagine a business in Franklin County, where the threat of the virus is virtually nonexistent, trying to survive the next five months. Think about the workers who were told by their government that they were “non-essential” and could find relief through the state safety net, only to be waiting and wishing for the unemployment system to catch up to their immediate needs.
If there is anything this crisis has shown us, it is that we cannot rely on the state government to run society. State government has to make tough choices to fix the damage they have caused; they can’t foist new problems on the worn-down populace.
For months we were told by Gov. Mills and Dr. Shah that we could not relax the destructive closures and limitations on our society because we were “not out of the woods,” as if we needed the go-ahead from politicians and their lackeys to live our lives. What’s worse, we cannot rely on the press to call out these egregious abuses of power. Week after week, administration officials skate through their public briefings with confidence that their narrative will not be questioned.
Activists in the media have abdicated their duty to stand up to the government for the benefit of the people. Today, they exist to give cover to their comrades in Augusta by perpetuating a warped sense of reality, a world where any struggling family or small business can afford higher taxes and fees.
They don’t even hide their bias; it is staggering. Citing half-baked, vaguely-correlative “research” from far-left think tanks, their attempt to tie a single change in a single tax rate to overall economic performance is laughable. If only we could apply their particularized, reductionist, academic understanding to something so vast and ever-changing like the economy.
The fact is, wealth must be created before it can be consumed. The government can only redistribute or “invest” wealth once the government has consumed it. The economy is a constantly shifting array of individual decisions being made moment-by-moment. Life is not a zero-sum game, as some assume.
The last thing we need is to be further nickel-and-dimed by the state, and further gaslighted by those in ivory towers into believing that we can afford it.
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