Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's my money!

On my recent post, Time for refutations, we've gotten into quite the discussion about where our tax dollars go, centering to begin with on how I paid for my schooling and extending into government spending in general.

As you can tell right from the headline, my philosophy is reflected in thinking that the money I make through my labors is best spent by myself and not by someone in the Government Office Building downtown in Salisbury, up in Annapolis, or just down U.S. 50 in Washington, D.C. Yes, I am aware that there is a need for various government services for which I do pay taxes; in fact, that bite generally gets bigger and bigger each year as evidenced by the date Tax Freedom Day is celebrated (this year Maryland residents worked until April 28th to pay their federal and state taxes, one of the latest dates in the country.) Ironically, the stimulus checks and slower economic growth pushed the date backwards for the first time since 2003 - the year the second round of Bush tax cuts took effect. My beef is with the vast scope of government that seems to grow each year by the implementation of more government programs and market interference.

There's much more below the fold.



Last year I wrote a number of posts on what I considered the proper role of government and suggested changes in a number of areas which most interested me, billing it as a 50 year plan. I know that it's going to have to be a multi-generational vision and I'm hoping to live long enough to see it come to fruition. Unlike the perception of conservatism that we're all mean-spirited and just wish to cut government with a meat cleaver, what we're looking for is government to maintain its proper role as dictated by the Constitution.

Let's look at what the two major-party candidates wish to do with taxes. Barack Obama wants to continue with policies that "Final Frontier" would appreciate - taxing the "elite" (read: successful people who work hard at their businesses, large and small, and create the jobs most Americans work at) and redistributing a few crumbs here and there for "working families", teaching them to depend further on the government handing them a check each spring. It's a short leap from depending on government for a check to having them run much more of our lives through regulation and market interference.

On the other hand, John McCain spells out a case for maintaining the tax cuts President Bush managed to pass but which expire in the next couple years. It's not nearly as far as I'd like, but it's a better alternative than watching Tax Freedom Day spiral up the calendar into May or even June.

As I write this, Senator Biden is spelling out what he thinks is "the change we need" under an Obama administration. Unfortunately, that change goes in the wrong direction - it's a change which would increase the intrusion of our federal government in our lives and our wallets.

Real change would set Americans free from the shackles of dealing with the IRS every spring and allow them to keep every dollar in their paycheck by taxing consumption instead of income.

Speaking to another of Final Frontier's subjects, real change would allow true educational choice and end the federal incursion into our children's schools. If states wanted to pick up the baton they would be more than welcome to; in fact some states mandate their presence in education through their respective Constitutions.

Maybe real change does come from thinking about some of those items Final Frontier went into during her comments. Yes, we do need highways for transportation and it's a legitimate government use of tax dollars. But do we need to subsidize certain modes of transport while making others which are more convenient also more expensive with mandates regarding what type of fuel they can use or how efficiently they use it? Shouldn't the person closest to the situation be able to balance the factors in his or her own head and come to an informed decision by him- or herself?

And about that cheese. Why is it that the government is in the cheese business? Farmers are more efficient than ever, and I would think that they'd want to actually grow crops instead of leaving land idle - unfortunately various incentives make it more financially worthwhile for the farmer to leave the land unproductive while they're paid to do so. Obviously the agricultural market is a fickle thing, but I'm sure farmers who complained for years about how hard it was to make it with the low price of corn aren't rushing to give back all those subsidies now that corn is near an all-time high price.

Finally, real change would be to get behind our military and our commander-in-chief and allow them to finish their task as they see fit. Call me a neocon, but I don't think creating an ally in the Middle East and wiping out a large number of prospective people who would do us harm was such a bad thing. Not only that, we're in the process of shifting our focus from Iraq to Afghanistan but we also have to think about the reawakening of that old Russian bear, one who we can't trust any farther than we can throw. Nor should we discount the threat of China. (This issue was one thing that endeared me to Rep. Duncan Hunter as a Presidential candidate.)

Unlike a Department of Education or a government contract to purchase and process "excess" cheese to support the market, defending our nation and its interests is a legitimate task given to the federal government by our Constitution. And we've been projecting power since the days of Jefferson, so spare me the isolationist garbage.

This is why I care so much about where my money goes and I reserve my right to question the decisions made by those who generally have been placed in power against my best judgment, or in many cases without my sayso at all. The scariest part of human nature is that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" and decades of relatively unchecked growth in what I like to refer to as "Fedzilla" has placed a lot of power in the hands of an elite unto their own, not "We The People."

Crossposted on monoblogue.

1 comment:

Chester Peake said...

I have the risk of sounding like a hyper-constitutionalist here, but it would not be a bad thing to respect the constitution for a change.

I would be in favor of two budgets.

One would only fund the "necessities" that are legally allowed by the federal government. It would be funded by fair, low, legal taxes. This would include police, national defense and other similar things that local and private entities cannot fund.

The other budget would be "luxurys", those things that would be nice to have, but others could (if they dug deep in their own pockets) could fund. Education, welfare, and other feel-good things. If the government funded any of this at all, it would be through legitimate user fees or voluntary donations people could make to the government. Private foundations and charities could fund these items and run them in their own way if they do not like the way the government versions are run. Competition would be good.

Of course, one of the many problems with this is that everybodys favorite pet program would be declared vital and pushed into the first category. Also, even legit federal programs would have some items in it that could be considered luxury and optional.

Maybe each department of government would have to draw up 2 budgets, the "needs" and the "wants". Only the "needs" would be funded at first, and there better not be any fat in it or it would come outta the salary of the ones making up the budget. IF (big IF) there was any money left over at the end of the year, then the feds could consider funding some of these "wants", but the department in question would have to make a mighty case to the people why the money should not be returned to the people. Perhaps a referendum would decide this and not government officials, neutering lobbyists.

I promise, I'm not smoking any funky weed. I have no delusions that anything half as sensible, legal, and constitutional would ever stand a chance in hades of being the norm... but I like to dream occassionally.

Returning to reality now.

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