Naysayers give up their power

Chuck Muth’s July 10 column in the Nevada Appeal may be read here.

Uptight far right preservatives go after RINOs and waste ink asking conservatives to fall on their swords opposing tax hikes rather than decrying the demise of the U.S. dollar.

Preservatives, if you don’t know the term in this context, extend the shelf life of stale and indigestible food for thoughtlessness in public debate. Hard right versions often talk of RINOs, an acronym for “Republicans in name only.”

Take Nevada’s Chuck Muth, for example. The president of the Citizen Outreach organization in a recent Nevada Appeal commentary said Reno RINOs are backing Ben Kieckhefer to replace state Sen. Randolph Townsend, who was term-limited from office.

Muth said Kieckhefer, a PR flak in the Gibbons administration, has declined to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, an Americans for Tax Reform initiative for which Muth seems the primary flak in Nevada.

Muth indicates preference for a candidate who will make the pledge against tax hikes. “So while Kieckhefer may be a super nice guy,” wrote Muth, “if this is the choice, this is what we fiscal conservatives call a ‘no brainer.’”

Fiscal conservatism, hooray. But in my book Muth goes too far. It’s a no brainer, indeed, if stunted representation from taxation opposition marginalizes an officeholder.

Think about it. Someone runs for office (state senator, in this case) and promises voters in writing—before seeing any legislation—to vote against any and all tax hikes.

I like taxes about as much as I enjoy toothaches, and the pain is permanent, but watching hundreds of state lawmakers in four states over more than three decades taught me a hard reality. Log-rolling is rampant. Vote trading is inevitable.

So unless everyone signs the pledge (only a minority do), it means an anti-tax pledger trades future bargaining power for the citizenry’s votes and enters office with lessened leverage. This state senator becomes a marginal player with taxation cards face up on the political poker table.

A no vote on taxes is a given. Tradeoffs and being a player in coalition building are gone. The legislator can’t trade, say, a yes vote for a sound tax to help block a bad one. And a trade to get a deep spending cut long term for a palatable if irritable tax hike in bad times is impossible for this short-leashed senator.

Everyone would howl and jettison the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor (and properly so) if she announced how she would rule before hearing particulars of a case. A conservative nominee doing the same would be treated the same. Why should prospective lawmakers be looked upon differently? Let’s think, folks.

Muth’s no-brainer tax pledge also is about as smart as the no-brainer called term limits. Term limits free a lawmaker in the final term to vote up or down on any issue. Via term limits, voters lose leverage. It amounts to unintended but unsurprising consequences.

Now, let’s tackle something vastly more important. The Federal Reserve and the Obama administration are destroying the village to save it, so to speak, and each of us must voice a clarion call against their costly profligacy.

They are squandering trillions of Federal Reserve notes (so-called dollars) to fight deflationary depression. Consequently, we will get stagflation in the short term and inflation later.

Admittedly, deflation can destabilize an economy. But inflation, a cruel hidden tax, destroys the value of money and lays societies even lower. More on this next week.

Until then, remember this: RINO-baiting is a silly sideshow while real danger comes when elephants and jackasses forget that a stable currency is key to societal survival.