“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride

Just when Democrats are on the verge of proving that they’re the most economically illiterate creatures to walk the earth, the Republicans get all jealous and start yelling and jumping up and down until everyone who’s paying attention recognizes that it’s always and evermore a dead tie.

Here’s a little something House Minority Leader Cross and others upset with the idea that schools pay for their staffs’ pensions may want to try getting their heads around:

Having to pay for goods and services you asked for and received isn’t “cost shifting.”  It’s just “cost.”

Taxing satellite TV providers in order to give money to education is cost shifting.  Taxing smokers to give money to Medicaid is cost shifting.  Taxing strip clubs to give money to women’s shelters is cost shifting.  Taxing offshore oil rigs to give money to education is cost shifting.

See a trend here?  You’re funding a benefit (“cost”) for one group of people by taking money from a completely unrelated group of people (“shift”) who won’t receive a benefit.  This shouldn’t be hard to grasp as it currently comprises 98% of all government activity.

Say for some reason and in spite of all evidence, you believed someone when they promised they would pick up the tab for half of something you where considering buying.  So you signed up for a whole lot of extra bells and whistles that you otherwise couldn’t afford and wouldn’t have ordered.

Time passes, and as actuarial reality sets in, you are presented with the bill for all of those goods and services you’ve received.  It may be accurate to yell “fraud!,” or maybe “Ponzi!” (or what I yell — “told you so!”) but it is most definitely not cost shifting.

So please watch your words.  There may be children reading.

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2 Responses to “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride

  1. Nadine Haven says:

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

    Hmmm. Obviously, one of us missed the point. Sorry you weren’t interested.

  2. Elwin Ransom says:

    Would I sound entirely too smug if I were to say, “I get it. I understand what you were going for here.”?
    Because if I sound that way, I’ll take it back…


    In my response to the earlier comment, I wasn’t sure what was being interpreted as whining. I consider the Republican position — of calling forcing downstaters to actually pay for the benefits they promised their teachers “cost shifting” — whining in the best case and blatant hypocrisy in the worst.

    The subject was kind of “inside baseball” if you don’t follow Illinois’ continuing financial meltdown, particularly as driven by its self-created pension fiasco; and was, like most of my posts, written and submitted (and published) to the local paper. As I live in the capitol city, many of my posts considered of interest locally may not rise above the “who cares” level in saner jurisdictions.

    — jn

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