The budget – the main role of the government
When the government operates under a constraint that forces it to set priorities, it is clear even to government ministers that it should be distributed to those who need it and taken from those who have more. But if there are no limits, then why not distribute to everyone?
The main role of the government is to set a budget. Through the budget, the government sets its priorities. It determines what is important and therefore large sums should be allocated to it, and what is less important and therefore nothing can be allocated to it. As a voter, I meet government policy through the budget: if I get good services in places that are important to me, a sign that my and the government’s priorities are similar. If not, I will vote for someone else.
But when the government deals with boxes, there are no priorities, and when the government has no priorities, it has no problem spending. The nurses demand extras, the nurses get extras. Social workers want extras, social workers get extras. The self-employed are protesting, the self-employed are getting extras.
I have nothing against all these additions. The Corona has increased the workload on social workers and workers in the medical professions, and there is certainly room to compensate them. There is also room to compensate those self-employed who have left government decisions without work and without hope. To be more important, there are other things that have become less important, and in places that have become less important one can cut back. For example, one can cut back with confidence because the enemies around us are also now busy in Corona instead of wars. There are also quite a few civil servants whose workload has been greatly reduced because of the corona. There are also many other places for cuts.
Distribution of money to each citizen is the most beautiful example of what happens when there are no priorities. When the government operates under a constraint that forces it to set priorities, it is clear even to government ministers that it should be distributed to those who need it and taken from those who have more. But if there are no limits, then why not distribute to everyone?
Plus, since these are boxes and not a budget, all the money the government distributes is only up to the end of the corona. This makes these expenditures look one-time, and it is much easier for the government to approve a one-time expenditure than a fixed expenditure. But people who get an extra budget get used to it, and what will the government do in a few months when it has to tell the social workers and nurses that the corona has run out and it stops paying?
Maybe it’s better not to know. Because as I wrote before, a budget allows me to know what the government’s priorities are, and whether they are right for me or not. Corona boxes allow me to know only one thing: my taxes will be used to pay off the remaining debts, which is a great deal of money.
Dr. Avichai Snir – Netanya Academy and Bar-Ilan University