| March 31, 2010

Limiting Government Is Good Policy, Good Politics

For decades now, economists and other social scientists have researched how government policy can help build more prosperous societies. The answer, according to economist Noel Campbell, is surprisingly old and surprisingly well-known: limited government.

Last month in these pages, Dr. Campbell examined four similar states (Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana) which have pursued different policies regarding taxes, spending, income transfers, and government employment. "The evidence is very clear," he wrote. "States with the smallest growth in government experienced the best growth in desirable attributes."

"In science, the strength and reliability of an idea are directly related to the number of times researchers have tested that idea against the evidence, and confirmed it," Dr. Campbell added. "Over decades of research and dozens of studies, not one time did researchers find that limiting government reduces people's income. This evidence is very strong. ... Limiting government creates economically free societies. Economically free societies are wealthier societies, among many other positive attributes."

In short, limiting government is good public policy. But here's the kicker: it happens to be good politics, too. New polling data make that abundantly clear.

A scientific telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters registered in Oklahoma was conducted February 25 through March 8, 2010, by SoonerPoll, the same firm that conducts the "Oklahoma Poll" for the Tulsa World. The poll, which was commissioned by OCPA, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Consider these questions and responses:

"Which would you rather see in Oklahoma?"

  • A smaller government with fewer services 61%
  • A larger government with many services 28%
  • Don't know/Refused 12%

"If Oklahoma's state government is faced with a budget shortfall, which of the following actions do you think the state should do?"

  • Raise taxes and/or fees 10%
  • Cut spending 77%
  • Neither 3%
  • Both 8%
  • Don't know/Refused 2%

"In order to deal with the budget crunch at the Oklahoma state capitol, a proposal has been made to reduce the number of state government employees by 10 percent. Would you support or oppose this proposal?"

  • Support 67%
  • Oppose 26%
  • Don't know/Refused 8%

Look, it's no secret that Oklahoma is one of the most conservative states in the nation. A Gallup poll taken in August found Oklahoma tied for third among the 50 states in that regard. And just last month when The Daily Caller, a D.C.-based news website, ranked the 100 conservative-friendliest counties in America, three Oklahoma counties made the list (Wagoner, Rogers, and Canadian).

Given what the Obama-Pelosi-Reid regime is doing in Washington, it's more important than ever for our policymakers in Oklahoma City to do the right thing: limit the size and scope of government.

It's good policy and it's good politics.

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