Pay More or Get Less?

As this great tax debate continues, a question: Why is it when states and cities are running budget deficits, they invariably raise taxes? Why is that a given?

From where I report to you now in New York City, it's all the rage. Real estate taxes are up 18 percent. Subway fares are up 23 percent. There are higher fees at hotels and gas stations, toll bridges and tunnels, buses and boats.

It seems as if you use it, they tax it. Now I'm wondering about it: Why?

Don't get me wrong, there are probably a good number of valuable government programs.

If you give me a year, I'll come up with a few, I'm sure of it. For now, I think most folks are being bamboozled. If you asked them to choose between paying more for something, or getting less of something, I think you might be surprised by the results.

For example, in my city, what if New Yorkers were asked to choose between a 30 percent hike in bus fare, or 30 percent fewer buses going their way? I think most would suck it up and say, OK, instead of 10 buses per hour going to Manhattan from my home, I'm going to have to live with seven.

When times are tough, you have to take tough measures. But we're taking the wrong tough measures. Most people are prepared, I think, to live with less, rather than paying more for less.

Would it kill government -- at any level -- to come up with any original thought?

Try asking the people. Give them a choice, all you government enthusiasts, between the bureaucracy you want and the bureaucracy they can afford. Some might welcome paying more for your services, but I think you're afraid that most would not. So you're not even giving them the option.

Higher taxes aren't always the answer. Sometimes, a little common sense is.

Watch Neil Cavuto's Common Sense weekdays at 4 p.m. ET on Your World with Cavuto.