The dire warnings from California (and probably elsewhere) about the government services that will be cut if tax increases aren’t forthcoming reminds me of 1981, when I began working on Capitol Hill for Congressman Wylie. At that time, President Reagan was trying to push through budget cuts in programs like milk price supports. One of the great stories (and, I think, apocryphal yet expressive of a deeper truth) about how turf-protecting bureaucrats react to proposed budget cuts involved the elevator operator at the Washington Monument. The story was that if anyone raised the possibility of cutting the budget for the Department of the Interior, the first person whose job would be cut would be that poor elevator operator. Visitors to the Monument then would have to climb all of the 897 steps to the top — and would complain to their elected representatives, who would cave in and restore the funding. The point is that bureaucrats often select and publicize budget cuts that will have the maximum negative impact on the maximum number of people as a passive-aggressive protest of the budget cuts, rather than making a legitimate effort to find ways for governmental entities to save money, reduce costs, and live within their means. I take it with a grain of salt when politicians or school board officials say that their first option to balance budgets after tax increases fail at the polls is to open prison doors, cut police forces, or eliminate high school football teams.