Pericles wrote “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you”. Why then, when it comes to this political season, do I have such a strong desire to scoop my eyes out with a melon baller? This country is on track to reach a debt level of $16 trillion this year. If you don’t think that’s an issue then please stop reading now and go back to your re-runs of Jersey Shore. How could you not be outraged, fired up, and follow all the riveting daily political analysis? Perhaps it’s because the meat puppet occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave (don’t get your knickers in a bunch – I think they’re all meat puppets, not just this one) is particularly adept at convincing the masses that if we just made things more fair, all our problems would be solved.
First, a Test
Before getting to fairness we need a little test to see just how deeply the brainwashing has impacted your orb of gray matter. Ready? One simple question – do you believe the Bush tax cuts cost the government (insert mega-huge $$ amount)? If you answered yes, it may be too late for you already. Why? Because to accept that premise you must believe the lost money was the governments in the first place. It was their money and dammit, the meat puppets had starving people in the streets to take care of that will now go hungry because you took it away.
How delusional is that? It’s like having the schoolyard bully stealing your lunchtime sandwich for most of the school year. When a teacher catches him and gives your sandwich back, you should now feel guilty because he’ll now go hungry? It’s just not fair. You still had the rest of your lunch to enjoy and yet you’d still deprive the bully of his tasty sandwich. As a nation we seem to have completely lost the sense that most of the “revenue” taken in by government is your money. Money you worked hard for. You spent time away from your family to earn that money. You skipped little junior’s soccer game because you had to be at work on a Saturday earning that money. When we decide that we’d like to keep just a little bit more of our money the rational response should be that government simply just doesn’t spend money that year remaking Sesame Street for Pakistan ($10 million reportedly) – NOT that we’ve somehow “cost” the government money.
Which brings me to what causes the horrific melon ball scenario. In broad terms, this country does not have a revenue problem – we have a spending problem. (technically, at our overall level of debt I’m not sure it’s actually recoverable regardless of steps taken) Generally speaking I’m ok with taxes. I buy into the social pact we’ve made with each other. Everyone contributes a little bit of what they earn so we can pay for some housekeeping here and there and have a safety net for those who truly need it. Oh, and protect us from the pending zombie apocalypse.
What I do have a problem with is seizing a non-trivial amount of my income, spending it like a drunken sailor, and then claiming more is needed when it runs out. Am I completely against raising taxes? No. However, before you do that I want to see that you’ve made every effort possible to use what you have wisely. Cut waste. Get rid of useless programs. Cut aid. Pull the 28,000 troops from South Korea. Cut 20% from every department’s budget. When that’s done go back and cut another 10%. When you’ve reached that point, and only at that point, you can come ask for more of my money.
The national wealth envy that’s being pushed is nauseating. The concept that it’s only fair that gazillionaires pay just a little bit more to help solve our debt problem is offensive (and no, I’m not part of that evil 1%). If we collect more in tax revenue from any particular group the only thing that happens is Washington will have more money to spend. Are you really naive enough to think that any additional money won’t be spent as fast as it comes in?
Speaking of taxes and fairness… the top 20 percent earned about 55 percent of all income, yet paid 70 percent of all federal income tax. Is that fair? Only if you buy into the politics of wealth envy. Want to spark outrage in this country? Stop collecting taxes via deductions from paychecks. Force everyone to write a check every quarter for taxes owed. I suspect very quickly people would actually realize how much of their income goes to the meat puppets in Washington for redistribution. Well… since nearly half of the country paid no federal income tax, maybe not.
Back to taking an interest in politics. Should I care about the grand promises that will never happen? Probably. But I don’t. A used car salesman will always be a salesman, no matter what the words on the teleprompter tell them to say. Besides, thinking about it takes time away American Idol.