What Should Be The Rank-ordered Budget Priorities Of The U.s. Federal Government?

(I agree with Stephan Kinsella’s answer to What should be the rank-ordered budget priorities of the U.S. Federal Government?. But I’m going to try to answer the question so that it’s possible to provide some insight.)

Let’s look at this scientifically.

I. The federal government, as constructed, has no vehicle for prioritization, or considering prioritization. So the federal government cannot prioritize expenses. Parliamentary government is constructed as a tactical organization with limits on it’s power, not a strategic one that must prioritize its actions. In theory an executive branch should establish such priorities, and does, but it does so in order to establish a legacy for the executive, rather than to cautiously administer the ‘trust fund’ that is the country. Instead, parliamentary organizations are vehicles for interest groups to request special claims which can then be forcibly extracted from others by means of complex involuntary transfers.

II. We can observe what governments do when they are forced to prioritize, and when we make that observation, we find that all governments do the following:

  • a) prevent insurrection
  • b) protect their jobs
  • c) maintain the capacity for extracting income from citizens.
  • d) maintain the capacity for accumulating debt.

They then threaten or improve those things voters care about (police, emergency, fire, school and libraries) or things voters need (roads, power, and sewer) which are operational, in while capturing as much revenue as they can for ideological programs, favored special interests, and additional personal income capture.

III. Given what parliamentary governments actually do as tactical organizations, it’s not rational to discuss what priorities they should follow. We did not construct government in order to achieve priorities. Instead, we should discuss, what a government that followed priorities would look like, and how it would run, and how those decisions would be made.

IV. If such a government could be constructed, and if it could survive attempts to circumvent it, then I suspect that the following would be the priority scheme that would be ‘best’ if we assume ‘best’ is something other than arbitrary. In the ase below, ‘best’ means, delivering the prosperity necessary for people to have choices, with the minimum cheating, corruption and rent seeking.

  1. Define a set of property rights (all human rights can be articulated as property rights.)
  2. Establish a geography within which those rights apply.
  3. Establish a judiciary for the resolution of differences according to the property rights.
  4. Establish registries for property (titles to anything and everything).
  5. Establish military, police, and other emergency service services to secure those rights.
  6. Establish and maintain commercial infrastructure.
  7. Establish an educational infrastructure.
  8. Given sufficient income produced from establishing commercial and educational infrastructure, allocate gains to the preferences of the people. (monuments, parks, social programs, etc.)

In periods of duress, work backward from the end of the list to the top, cutting services such that the public is informed as to the importance of those priorities.


Leave a Reply