It’s one thing for state and local governments to ask the federal government for help to cover expenditures they couldn’t foresee, such as those related to the pandemic. But they shouldn’t be asking federal taxpayers to pay for their routine expenditures, especially when these governments have failed to plan appropriately for revenue shortfalls that inevitably occur, as they’re bound to encounter emergencies. Governments should prepare for them. They should cut spending and, if that’s not enough, they should turn to their own citizens for the funds needed to cover non-coronavirus expenditures. Those funds could be obtained through higher taxes or spending cuts elsewhere. Their routine spending should come from their taxes.
Competition in sports is typically zero sum. The team with the higher score wins and the other team must lose. But economic competition is positive sum. Market share has to sum to 100 percent. When highly reliable Hondas and Toyotas showed up in the United States at very reasonable prices in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, they took market share from American companies. But the total number of cars sold wasn’t fixed. By making better and cheaper cars, the number of cars sold increased. And the quality wasn’t static, either. Spurred by Japanese competition, American car companies improved their products’ quality. And the American consumer was better off.
The essence of commercial life is positive sum. You hire me at a wage that makes it worthwhile for you to do so. I work for you because the wage is high enough to make me better off as well. Without both of us gaining, there’s no deal to be made.