Am I Fiscally Conservative? Do I Want to Be?

In Left or Right? « Touamoto Sakimata-Smith my buddy Greg talked about being ‘fiscally conservative’ and it got my blood flowing a bit — brought back an earlier conversation I had with my city councilor.

I’ve had a problem with the term ‘fiscally conservative’ for a while now, because I see it as having mixed meanings.

I think I’m ‘fiscally conservative’ with my own money because I don’t do into debt for things (pay cash whenever I can, pay down the mortgage ASAP, do without if I don’t have the money.) I also don’t own any penny stocks or precious metal funds.

But insofar as public policy, I believe that we’re better off as a society if there is a strong ‘Common Good’. I believe that there is value in public services far beyond the cost of them. Because of that I’ve been a strong advocate for public libraries, public education and city services.

I don’t subscribe to the opinion that all taxes are evil by definition and that we should cut every public service possible in order to keep taxes down. I want to make sure my governments are managing our shared pool of money well, but I WANT to pay taxes and I WANT my taxes to go toward strong public services. So I’m much more concerned about getting the most common ‘bang’ for my tax buck than paying fewer tax bucks.

I also don’t have a problem paying more taxes than someone who lives in a smaller house or makes less money. If I have ‘more’, I don’t have trouble paying more.

Can I still call myself fiscally conservative? Has the term been co-opted to imply ‘I Hate Taxes’ or am I using the term incorrectly?

3 thoughts on “Am I Fiscally Conservative? Do I Want to Be?”

  1. I don’t think “fiscally conservative” means that you don’t support any public programs. It just means that the government needs to work within its means, and not go trillions of dollars into debt.

  2. Thanks for the comment Dana!

    Do you see a connection between people (people in government anyway) who tightly couple ‘fiscally conservative’ with ‘less government’? I do.

    If a social program benefits society at large, and it can be run effectively by government, then why not raise the tax dollars to run the program? Perception these days seems to be that a dollar spent by government is waste and a dollar spent by an individual or corporation is growth (or some other good thing) Why is that?

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