Lorraine Berry uses the current long lines at airports due to cuts in the staffing of TSA personnel at the security checkpoints as the starting point to argue that there is an inherent contradiction in the SLFC (socially liberal but fiscally conservative) stance that is popular, especially among young people. The problem is that implementing socially liberal policies costs money.
Fiscally conservative means that we can’t have nice things, like the kinds of Internet speeds enjoyed by most of the countries in Europe and much of Asia. Swedes pay approximately $40 per month for the Internet. While the tech bros of San Francisco and environs may be creating cutting edge technology, it’s the equivalent of trying to drive a Maserati in a school zone. In nations such as Sweden, the internet is treated as a public utility, and there was public investment in building the infrastructure of the service so that it was available to everyone in the country. While many in the U.S. equate infrastructure with road construction, it’s important to remember that the Flint water crisis is a direct result of not wanting to pay for infrastructure improvements. Because we’re all subject to the competitive market of internet providers who have no motivation for extending service to sparsely populated areas, or investing in increased speeds if it requires huge capital investments, it’s unlikely that those speeds are going to catch up with countries where “big government” made the investment on behalf of their peoples.
The old adage says that “you get what you pay for.” Fiscal conservatism, which is often just another way of saying that someone doesn’t want to have to pay taxes, ends up having real-life impacts on Americans’ quality of life. The idea of small government may look attractive in a hipster world where everyone just wants to do their own thing, but it’s hard to do one’s own thing when one is working long, underpaid hours in order to service back-breaking student loans and pay for ticky-tacky housing with rents that resemble a king’s ransom. The people who benefit most from fiscal conservatism are the people for whom student loans, or access to housing–even having to rely on commercial airlines for travel–are not issues. For the rest of us, fiscal conservatism is a bad investment.
I freely confess to being a ‘tax and spend’ person, wholly in favor of higher taxes in order to support social programs that I value. I feel that income tax rates in the US are ridiculously low for people in my income bracket and higher, and would gladly pay more.