George Will

     Ending bottled water for employees of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (annual savings, $35,000). Ending notification of drivers that their licenses are expiring; letting them be responsible for noticing (saving $200,000). Buying rather than renting floor mats for BMV offices (saving $267,000 this year). Initiating the sale of 2,096 surplus state vehicles (so far, $1.95 million in revenue from 1,514 sales). Changing the state lottery's newsletter from semimonthly and in color to a monthly and black-and-white (annual savings, $21,670). And so on, and on, agency by agency.

     Such matters might be dismissed by liberals who think government spending is an index of government ``caring,'' and perhaps by a new sect called ``national greatness conservatives'' who regard Daniels' kind of parsimony as a small-minded, cheeseparing exercise unworthy of government's great and stately missions. But it seems to be an Indiana approach.

     What is it about Indiana? In this annus horribilis for conservatives, one of their few reasons for rejoicing has been the ascent to influence in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Republican Study Committee, more than 100 parsimonious members under the leadership of Mike Pence, a third-term Hoosier from a few miles east of here. The RSC's doctrine, a response to a one-third increase in federal spending during the current president's first four years, might be called Danielsism, which is: There is more to limited government than limiting its spending, but there will be nothing limited about government unless its spending is strenuously limited.

     This tenet of traditional conservatism, although more frequently affirmed than acted on, is producing fresh plans for action. A 24-page RSC proposal calls for rescinding $25 billion in pork spending from the transportation bill, saving $30.8 billion by delaying for one year the start of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, and much more.

     Daniels believes that Danielsism, far from being an exercise in small-mindedness, actually serves a large vision. He subscribes to a distinction made by Virginia Postrel in her book ``The Future and Its Enemies'' -- the distinction between advocates of stasis and advocates of dynamism. The former believe in managing the unfolding of the future. The latter believe in minimal management of that unfolding; hence they believe in minimizing government, which has a metabolic urge to manage, and a stake in preserving, the status quo that government's bureaucracies are comfortable serving.

     So, what is it about Indiana? As the home of Danielsism, and of Penceism, it -- with its bought, not rented BMV floor mats -- is the wave of the future.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read George Will's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.