Man Without Qualities

Sunday, June 29, 2003

An Old Standby

There is one eternal of government budget "crises": Governments make spending cuts as painful as possible with the old "close the Washington Monument" dodge, protecting non-essential employees and programs by shutting down the most visible services. Reporters take the bureaucratic maneuver hook, line, and sinker.

It happens every time, sometimes more literally than others:

Serious budget shortfalls have historic preservation programs across the country fighting for survival, according to the National Trust, an advocacy group for historic preservation. Historical societies are trying to absorb the cuts by reducing the number of days that sites are open, cutting tours and even contemplating the closing of some attractions.

But state budget crises are mostly the result of recent decisions to irrationally inflate state spending. States that did not recently bloat their spending the way California (for example) did, shouldn't have to "contemplate" closing basic state historical sites - reversing those recent, bad spending decisions shouldn't require defunding "Washington Monuments."

The media knows just what the profligate, manipulative state governments are doing. But the the old "close the Washington Monument" dodge continues anyway - as eternal as tomato soup.

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