Smart fiscal conservatism

“Since winning elections is overwhelmingly a matter of vote buying, and society’s informational organs (education and media) are no more resistant to bribery than the electorate, a thrifty politician is simply an incompetent politician, and the democratic variant of Darwinism quickly eliminates such misfits from the gene pool.”

Even fiscal conservatives don’t like fiscal conservatism pointed in their direction.

Doug Ford now finds himself riding a resurgent wave of popularity, largely due to the fact that a) he’s managed comms throughout this covid crisis remarkably well, and b) he’s given up on his austere rhetoric and policy agenda, emphasizing that now is not the time for major spending cuts.

The people like it when you spend money on them and their pet causes.

How then to solve the problem of reining in the size and cost of government while remaining electable?

I like the Boris Johnson approach: pair lavish promises with proposals for structural reform. In his case, “we’re going to fund the NHS” with “we’re going to get Brexit done”.

What really matters here is spending as a ratio to GDP. If cutting spending (materially) is off the table, we need to take a much harder look at boosting GDP.