Saturday, April 21, 2012

Let's Put on a Show and Pay More!

Before I return to my topic of a post-Obama foreign policy, let me turn to something a little more mundane, money.

I have been watching the talk shows, reading the op-eds, and arguing with neighbors about taxes.

I oppose raising taxes on anybody for two fundamental reasons,

1) The default setting should always be that a person's money is a person's money. By instituting tax withholding many, many moons ago, we undermined that principle. We now routinely think of our paycheck as the amount the government lets us take home after withholding.  It is easy for government to raise taxes because it makes a "minor" adjustment in the withholding, and, viola!, you don't really miss that ten bucks . . . Imagine if we took home our pay, and at the end of the year had to write a check for all taxes owed for the year. Outrage! Bottom line, the government should not get first shot at your money.

2) It does no good, not even in terms of paying for government. Having worked in the government for 34 years, I assure you that if you give the government an extra ten dollars, it will spend an extra forty dollars. The "new" money does not go to paying off the debt, or reducing the annual deficit, it goes to new programs and projects, which inevitably cost much more than the new money. Every single program is rife with waste, fraud, and mismanagement. I repeat, every single one. That is the nature of government. The money is not real. It just appears. There is little to no incentive to handle the money with respect. Congress can always "give" you more. I remember a Deputy Chief of Mission, a friend and an incredibly honest bureaucrat, who ran a moderately sized embassy; he was roundly criticized and chastised for having returned money to the Treasury at the end of the fiscal year. He naively thought that having saved the government money, reducing expenses, was a good thing.  The budgeteers were outraged because he had just made their next year's request more difficult: obviously the job could be done for less. That's a bad thing in the government. That's how it works.

A proposal. Those who genuinely want more of their money to go to the government should give it to the government. We, after all, have a volunteer military. Why not have a cadre of voluntary donors to the government?

This cadre could hold big Castro-like rallies where they pledge their love for the state and turn over their checks, cash, gold, jewelry, houses, BMWs, etc. They could hear speeches from Warren Buffett, Alec Baldwin, the staff at MSNBC about how the state is good, all power to the state! Maybe they could rent a barn and put on a show!?! Have bake sales! Scavenger hunts! Raffle off one of Clooney's European mansions!

What a wonderful world . . .


  1. I have often said that if the American citizen were handed a bill on New Years eve for all the taxes they owe; local, county, state, federal, excise, etc, etc there would be an insurrection.
    The slow drip, drip, drip out of our wallets is how "gov't" gets away with it.
    To say I think myself taxed to death is an understatement. BTW, I live in NYS. Don't get me started...

  2. I've said repeatedly (and I will again) that it's important to remember that governments (village, township, town, city, county, state, country) in and of themselves do not have money. All of it comes from us.

  3. Government would have us believe that the half of the population that pays no Federal income taxes is being poorly served by the half that does not pay its fair share of income taxes.

  4. In the same vein, every family receiving "benefits" should be paying taxes. Not saying how high the amount or rate, but how else will they learn to appreciate the value of what they receive?

  5. I graduated college, went directly to bending nails trying to support my young family, and paid for the first time in my life taxes: the 15.65% "self-employment tax." Hitherto, I'd been a DFL member and activist. That 15.65% off a total income of $14,000 sent me directly to the right when my fellow DFLers, good academics, government workers, and socialist farmers, failed to see anything wrong with that. More than twenty years later I read in the news that such behavior was against my self-interest. I'm trying to imagine that...

  6. Having spent 10 years working with entrepreneurs and start ups and then starting my own company I went to work on a government funded contract in Russia. I made the same error your DCM friend did -- thinking I was doing a good job, meeting the objectives and coming in under budget. I was quickly educated in the ways of government contracts. Spend it all, get more, rinse, repeat.