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Budgets Have Two Sides

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the Washington Post:

Sebastian Mallaby wisely argues that reducing Uncle Sam’s budget
deficit is desirable, but he unwisely supposes that the only means of
doing so is raising taxes ("McCain’s Convenient Untruth," September
8).  Not once in his column does he plead for reduced spending.

Mr. Mallaby’s brother-in-law persistently lived beyond his means by
borrowing money to buy lots of luxury automobiles, vacations in Tahiti,
and expensive gifts for sponging friends, would Mr. Mallaby scold his
brother-in-law only for earning too little income?  Would Mr. Mallaby’s
advice be limited to "Earn more money!"?  Would he not also recommend
that his brother-in-law spend less?

Clearly, the most
straightforward way for his brother-in-law to avoid bankruptcy is for
him reduce his expenditures.  And while advising him also to earn more
income is generally a good idea, such advice would be irresponsible and
downright anti-social if the brother-in-law’s chief source of income is
robbery (that is, taking money by force from productive people).

Donald J. Boudreaux