States in trouble
One hears a lot these days about how all the states in the US
are so pressed for cash that they're having to cut back services. I
think this is probably a good thing, the states have gotten completely
out of hand in spending.
I got to thinking about this when I ran across the following:
Since 1978 the Texas budget has grown more than 600 percent, a clear
indicator that spending and efficiency has not necessarily gone hand
I'll say! During the period of 1978 to 2003, spending
went up a
whopping six times, while inflation
was about 280 percent. In other words
state spending in constant dollars more than doubled
in that 25
year period. "Wait," I hear you say, "the population
in that time!" Nope, it only increased by 57 percent. Constant spending per
, therefore, increased by about 35 percent over that time.
This during a period (especially the 1990's) when overall US
efficiency was climbing drammatically. Somehow, government never
manages to cash in on efficiency increases that bussinesses
have to take advantage of or go out of business. You can buy a
lot more car for your money now than in 1978 (in constant dollars),
and a lot more food and so on. With government, though, the trend is
in the other direction.
This spending increase is true of states in general. From 1978 to
2002, spending by state governments increased from $263B to $1,279B,
about 480 percent (Texas, obviously, was trying harder than
average). Interestingly, federal
spending during that period went from $456B to $1,973B, an increase
of "only" 432 percent (all of these stats curtesy of
http://www.fedstats.gov, your friend when you want to know what your
government is up to).
Clearly, the states have been through an orgy of spending
increases, even worse (if you can believe it) than the federal
government, and faster than population growth and inflation. Texas
now spends over $5,000 per person living in the state each year (the
federal government is even worse, over $6,000 per person per year).
Personally, I don't think I'm getting my $5,000 worth