Is The Goal To Enrich Government, Or Enrich People?

North Dakota voters approved the creation of a Legacy Fund into which oil tax revenues will be deposited (the first deposit happened earlier this month). Eventually the legislature will be able to spend out of the fund, but only certain amounts and only with super-majority approval in both houses.

The creation of this fund, though it was backed by Republicans and Democrats alike, was a mistake that’s already being used as an excuse to oppose tax relief. The fund will like up hundreds of millions of tax dollars in the government, and though spending from the fund requires a 2/3’s majority it’s worth noting that just about every spending bill passed in the state legislature gets a super majority.

Now there’s a debate over what to do with tax dollars deposited in the fund. Some legislators are resisting pushes to invest the balance of the fund in the stock market, but in the Grand Forks Herald today Tom Dennis argues for investment noting what a bounty the proceeds could be for the state.

I’ve nothing against investing in the stock market, obviously, and I’m not surprised that Dennis would think fondly of enriching the government so that the government can do more stuff but I think everyone supportive of this fund is missing the point.

These are tax dollars taken out of the private sector. Tax dollars the state government has no need of. Rather than using them as some sort of an investment slush fund for the state, they ought to be given back to those who paid them. Or used to offset other taxes.

Regardless, we shouldn’t be locking wealth away in government to be played with by government investment boards. If the government doesn’t need the money, then give it back to the taxpayers.

Let the citizens invest or spend their own money.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Kevin Flanagan

    How about not taking it in the first place?

  • $8194357

    (This is a no brainer).
    They have been “redistributing” our income into their pockets since Woodrow signed the Federal Reserve and IRS into existance in 1913. Marxist socialisms usurption of Constitutional Equal Rule of Law “limited” Federal governace accomplished when they gave the control of the nations currency to private “ponzi” bankers…….The “money trust” form of financial structure that benifits the owners of the “debt” structure and creating a “new” currency called debt…..Asshats….

  • Gbosse

    It is unconstitutional for any Government to collect more money than it needs. 

    Either do what Alaska has done (give it back to it’s citizens) or create a bigger Government.  Hmmmm?  What should we do?

  • sbark

    Govt and those within do anything possible to protect itself, its growth, and it expansion of power…….

    it natural, not surprising at all……..

    Even at the GOP POTUS Candidate level….there are very few, maybe even only 1 that actually beleive in smaller Govt………and she hasnt even announced yet……

    for the rest………their actions speak louder than their words

  • howiseeit

    There is no such thing as enriching the government.  Government does not produce revenue they only take it.  The fees that they collect are only to sustain the regulations that they impose.  Give it back or at least reduce the tax.  I think its commonly understood that we kind of need the oil.  Don’t discourage it with taxes that for no other reason are imposed to line the States’ pocket. 

    • Rob

      Exactly right.  If oil tax revenues are giving us more than we need, then cut the taxes.  There was a proposal to lower and simplify the oil tax in the last legislative session and the legislators killed it.

      North Dakota citizens and business do not need to be taxed at nearly the level they are.

      • ec99

        Governments are voracious consumers of money.  To think they would ever lower their revenue streams and actually care about citizens is naive.  They view all money as theirs; yours mine, everyone’s.  We get to keep some of it, but they reserve the right to take more.