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Budgets Have Two Sides

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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 [2]," 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