An Ounce of Freedom for a Pound of Tyranny

This occurs when politicians support small reductions in Big Government regulations or spending but will only vote to cut them if another area of Big Government expands in its place - usually by an amount much greater than the reduction. This results in a net increase in the authority, scope, size, or spending of Big Government. The politicians who vote for it make great fanfare about their support for freedom - and hope you won't notice the pork spending that went with it.

Example 1:

Until 2004, Massachusetts banned liquor sales in stores on Sundays. Despite this being a very unpopular law, the powerful liquor lobby kept it in place. The legislature finally mustered the political will to (partially) repeal the ban - but only when an additional $200 million in new state spending was added to the bill.

The average Massachusetts taxpayer was effectively charged $70 for the right to buy liquor on Sundays. How many of them would have been willing to pay $70 for restoration of this right, if they were given the choice?

More importantly, why should they have to pay for their freedom?

Example 2:

The Sagamore Bridge - one of two bridges over the Cape Cod canal - has been the cause of agonizing traffic delays getting on and off the Cape for decades. The Sagamore Bridge needed an overpass on the mainland side to replace the rotary that was there. When Mitt Romney was governor, he wanted a feather in his cap by championing the "fly-over" - his fancy word for an overpass. The legislation to accomplish this was exorbitantly priced at $70 million (why a private contractor couldn't do it for under $10 or $20 million is worth asking). But that wasn't enough to satisfy the legislator. Rather, they insisted that a $700 million commuter train project of dubious benefit be added to the bill - or they wouldn't pass it. Romney, in his usual who-cares-about-the-taxpayer style, signed the bill into law.

So taxpayers are paying the better part of a BILLION DOLLARS for the privilege of a simple overpass. And that's just the starting price. Remember: the Big Dig started at $2.3 billion and is now over $15 billion! Only time will tell what the final price of this overpass will be.