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John Sullivan Jr.: Keep government in balance

  • Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Note to all those government haters out there: Government has a role to play in ensuring opportunity for all. The ability to perform that function is taken away when you severely limit the collection of taxes necessary to perform it.

The belief that by cutting taxes you will set free the forces of job creation, and thereby fill the intentionally emptied government coffers through this miraculously anticipated growth, is foolish. Our legislators would do well to remember that it’s a fool’s errand to not have a fail-safe mechanism in place to provide support for governmental functions such as public education during a supposed transition to this new Oz-like Kansas economy.

It is like putting the patient on the operating table with no backup plan to stop the bleeding that might occur during the procedure, and no blood supply to use for the transfusion that may be needed. The operation eventually might be successful, but the patient bleeds to death before it’s over.

Let’s put it this way: If you’re sitting on a three-legged stool and you saw off one of the legs, you will tumble and fall, unless you have secured yourself in some other way.

On another note, we have three separate and coequal branches of government for good cause. The idea is to provide checks and balances against one branch or another that, for whatever reason, gets off balance.

In the case of Kansas, the courts have stepped in to tell the governor that he is off balance. That is an important function of the judiciary. They are just doing their job, and the zealots are now going to try to stick it to the courts for telling them to stop sawing off the legs of their chairs for fear of tumbling.

But these guys want to fall off. They want the chair to break. They don’t like the chair they were elected to sit upon, so they want to so fundamentally alter its composition that it becomes a two-legged stool instead of a three-legged one.

The problem is that two-legged stools don’t work They cannot stand and perform the function of a stool. And governments without a fair and adequate system of taxation to pay for the necessary services that government is uniquely suited to perform are doomed to fail as well.

Can someone please deliver that message to the governor before we are crippled and unable to maintain our balance?

John Sullivan Jr. teaches American government at Pittsburg State University.

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