Thursday, May 19, 2011


Here we are the in spring goofy season, where politicians offer wilder and wilder budget plans to save us from the wild budget plans of their predecessors. I opened the local newspaper today and what should greet me but a front page story about a Chamber of Commerce meeting held last night. One of the speakers was the newly elected Republican Congressman from our district. His words appear regularly in this rag, since I don't think the editors have ever seen a Republican Congressman from our district. Since he not only holds the title but also toes the (tea) party line he stands out as a hero to our local "news" types.

Congressman McKinley, in explaining to the crowd the mysteries of Federal budget making, used an analogy that I've heard from most, if not all, of the current crop of conservatives. It goes something like this. "You see," will say our conservative friends, "our Federal budget is just like your budget at home." "If your family brings in $35,000 each year, but spends $45,000, your family will have to borrow money to get by," they'll explain. "Now that might work for a little while, but sooner or later your little family is going to be BANKRUPT!" After the shock wears off they will go on, "in order for your family to avoid that you'll have to cut how much you spend." This is usually said with a bit of smugness, just to show the listener that the speaker knows something important.

And then comes the zinger! "In the same way, we as a nation must cut our out of control spending or we're DOOMED!" A cheer usually goes up from the attendees at this point followed by much head nodding and conversation in the audience. But something about that nice simple explanation bugs the heck out of me.

You see, the better example might be a family where mom and dad both work, earning $45,000 a year together, but where dad gambles away $10,000 a year leading to the shortfall. This seems to work if you see mom as Main Street or the so called real economy, and dad as Wall Street. But such a construction really doesn't matter. What matters is that part of the "family" isn't contributing to the welfare of the household.

Unlike your families finances, the government has a special, some would seem to think secret, means of balancing the budget that doesn't involve only cutting spending. It's called raising taxes. Mom and dad can't generate their own raises so that more money comes into the family, but the government can.

I'm not going to go into all of the arguments that swirl around talk of tax cuts or tax increases. I've written about the Laffer Curve before and nothing has happened to change my mind. Our citizens are "suffering" through some of the lowest  tax burden in over 60 years. We are not over taxed. Do I like taxes? Hell no. Taxes are, in the main, an immoral burden on the work of some confiscated to benefit others. I don't like taxes at all. But that's the deal we have struck.

The social contract under which we live has to deal with what is, not what we wish was. We burden ourselves (we, the people, remember) with taxes because we need that which only government can provide. Yes, we get programs and projects that waste huge sums and don't benefit "us" but we also get programs and projects to help and benefit many others. It's a tradeoff. At least it's a tradeoff to those who believe in such things as tradeoffs and negotiations and making deals that benefit the largest number of citizens. To the side that believes that the mom and pop story is a real example of how government works, not so much.   

1 comment:

Lisa P said...

Well said! I personally get tired of all of the really selfish attitudes people have. We all have to kick in money for things that don't necessarily apply to us- do I have kids? No, but do I pay taxes that go towards education- yes!People want to get the budget in line, but no one wants to raise taxes. Sure, there are things they could do to cut back, but bottom line if taxes need to go up then so be it.