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By: Wayne Brown
The longer I look upon the political process and the federal government of this country, the more amazed I am at how people think and reason; how they apply logic; and how they justify outcomes. I feel like somewhere along the line that I must have dozed off and missed the announcement that logic and common sense have been declared dead in the American society.
Just this past week I read an article presented from a liberal slant using statistics to make a comparison of the level of taxation around the various countries of the world as compared to the United States. The conclusion was that we pay significantly less tax than many countries therefore, as Americans, we don’t pay enough taxes. This simple comparison was enough to justify to the writer that Americans do not pay enough taxes. Never mind any investigation of why someone in Norway or Bo dunk pay through the nose; never mind the thought that if we continue to raise and raise taxes, we will soon be in the same book as the people of Norway or Bo dunk…no thought at all.
The article I reference above eventually reaches the conclusion that our current financial ills in this country are a direct result of Americans not paying enough taxes. Of course the question was never asked, “How much is enough taxes?” That question could not be asked because there was no ready answer out there depicted in some statistical analysis of comparative tax rates. Stop by any business person’s shop sometimes and ask them “how much is enough business?” See if they have an answer readily available for you. Business people don’t think in those terms, they think in terms of break evens and margins; cash flow and overhead. Depending on how they these factors are managed yields different results in terms of profit and thus changes the answer as to “how much business is enough?”
Taxation is not the problem in America as an answer to our current financial woes. The only thing taxation increases will do is improves the revenue or cash flow coming into the government. While that is nice, it does nothing for the amount of money flowing out of the government on the other side. In other words, you are pouring water into a bath tub that has a hole in it which is bigger than your bucket. Taxation does not fix spending, it merely temporarily offsets it until those who love to spend can come up with new ways to waste money faster than we can find it. Taxation is not the problem driving our financial problems of today, spending and out of control politicians own that domain.
In terms of the current financial situation in the federal government, how much is “enough”? Chew on that a bit and it does not take one long to realize that we cannot approach the operation of our government with the assumption that it or the people who run it know what “enough” actually is in terms of revenue. They don’t and they don’t want to know because it would constrain their desire to spend and spend in such a manner as to assure that they would be re-elected to their high office again and again. From this perspective, there is never “enough” and the spending monster gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And when “enough” runs out, well, let’s just borrow some…we can pay it back later. Hell, why not turn our government over to a bunch of teenagers who have never had credit cards…it couldn’t be any worse.
Government has two real functions: Provide for the defense of its citizens and explore ways to become smaller, more efficient, and less intrusive into the lives of its citizens. Beyond that scope, government is simply pandering for votes…using taxpayer dollars to attract block votes; using borrowed money to attract block votes for the re-election process. For you see, re-election to the high office is all that really matters in Washington DC, the rest is merely a distraction.
One must stop and asked what would happen if you wrote out a check and voluntarily mailed in one million dollars to the federal government today? What do you think would really happen assuming they did not lose the check before they could cash it? Do you really think it would be applied to the deficit in order to reduce what we owe? What if it was a billion or trillion or a zillion dollars? Does it really matter? I think not and I would venture to say that Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, or Bill Gates would tell you the same thing. There is no environment of fiscal responsibility in Washington. Any increase in the amount of money received only results in more spending. That is the singular most accurate prediction one can make under the present circumstances.
The point of this article is not to defend conservatives or necessarily trash liberals. We got to where we are with the help of both of them, thank you. The blame game will not fix the situation but it will serve the purpose of distracting those who want it fixed when solutions are not readily apparent. Let’s just blame each other until we all get mad and tired then we can go home and continue to do absolutely nothing of substance about our current financial attitude in Washington.
The Democrats say they are all for a “balanced budget”. Really? I seem to remember a prolonged period in which the Democrats had super-majorities in both chambers of Congress. Where was the bill that they introduced and pushed through for a balanced budget? There was none and there was no attempt to get one. Hell, there was no real attempt to even create a budget period during that timeframe. This is nothing short of hypocritical and a very predictable behavior of the whole political process in Washington.
Look at the right side of the aisle…the old guard Republicans are ready to cross the line and stand beside the liberals anytime a trashing of Tea Party conservatives is called. And why not, this handful of conservatives is the only voice in Washington today attempting to hold the line for the “will of the people.” They are the only ones there who have even heard what the majority of people think in the past few years. Far and away, the majority of Americans want to see fiscal responsibility brought to Washington yet the old guard will fight it tooth and nail because they don’t know how to impose, implement, sustain, or promote fiscal responsibility. They only know how to spend and spend is what they want to do…one only has to look at the books to see the evidence of that.
A recent Rasmussen Poll indicates that 69% of the American people no longer feel that Washington is carrying out “the will of the people” in running our government. One seldom sees one number so large anymore when Americans are polled but we know how we feel about this, no doubt. So what do you have when the “will of the people” is no longer present in the actions of a government? You have tyranny, plain and simple. Elected leaders who have appointed themselves the “messiah” and who feel that they know better what is best for America than they people living in it do. Never mind that there seems to be a lot of coincidence between what they consider good for the country and good for themselves.
One way or the other, America, if it lasts long enough, will come to a point where a balanced budget approach to government will not just be an option, it will a necessity. As it stands at the present, the process of getting there would be painful at this juncture. If we wait, painful will not be an adequate word to describe what will ensue. For all that government has been to people who seek from the government, it will be nothing more than the provider of pain. We have long since passed the point where a balanced budget was our best option. At this point, it is no longer an option but a necessity. Of course, both sides of the aisle claim to favor it but watch how much actually gets done in that process. For now, we have to watch the drivel and doubletalk coming out of the super-committee of appointed old guard in even starting to determine what we will do with regard to balancing our budget. That process could be longer than a Darryl F. Zanuck movie in reaching completion.
If I had to guess what is coming, my best shot at it would be the committee recommending that we implement the first steps toward balancing a budget by increasing the existing revenue streams or to put it simply, increase taxes. Of course that will come with the standard banter about closing loopholes for the wealthy and corporations and generally driving up the tax burden of the rich. In practice, that will not be enough to make any significant difference. Taxation can only be effective by hitting the American “sweet spot”, the middle-class wage earner.
Notice that I point out that the committee will return first with the suggestion of increased taxation and the promise that once taxes are raised the process will begin whereby spending is either capped at a given level or base or eliminated altogether. Remember that point…tax first, cut or cap later. Interesting that they would want to do it that way isn’t it. We need more money first because we don’t yet know how much money we will need so it makes sense to tax first and cut later. That, my friends, is the measure of sincerity and lack of trust these people are capable of in manipulating the American public.
The effective first step toward a balanced budget should be to identify the expenses to which our current spending levels are assigned. Then, prioritize that spending on the basis of some reasonable formula as to whether it is critical, convenient, or just plain optional in the grand scheme of the future. Once that prioritization has taken place, it becomes much clearer as to which programs are in need of cuts or caps. We know that we need to get rid of 1.5 trillion in deficit spending annually…that’s no secret. We have a target so we just need a map of how to get there. Once we have cut and capped as much as possible, then a much more realistic picture will emerge as to how much real additional tax burden the American people need to shoulder. Any new tax revenue flowing into the government at this point, without a balanced budget agreement, is simply going down the drain.
I will predict that current super-committee will not come up with anything substantive in the way of spending cuts nor will the work they do (if any) accomplish the goal of working toward a balanced budget for America. The committee is far too populated with officials who have lousy track records for teamwork and for fiscal responsibility. Their heart is not in it with the exception of accomplishing the step to raise the tax burden for America. Keep that in mind as you watch this chapter play out.
The majority of Americans are focused on the task of seeing government reduced in terms of not only size but also its capacity for spending money that we do not have. The public sees that and desires to see something of significance done about it as opposed to attempting to set up the other side of the aisle or win in the blame game leaving the public in the same sad shape that it has been in for decades now. The public must maintain its focus and the demand that effective steps be taken and taken in the proper order to achieve a balanced budget process. For those elected officials in Washington who cannot not work with conviction toward that goal, go home and the sooner the better.
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