December 3, 2008

Tax Code Fairness and other Myths

(text quoted is generously lifted from; emphasis mine)

Tax cuts are "part and parcel of what we need when it comes to stimulus," Obama said last week.

"We're going to be putting money in people's pockets so that they can spend on buying a new computer for their kid's school, so that they can, you know, make sure that they are able to deal with heat and groceries and all the other strains on the family budget," he added.

The long-term benefit, in his view: It would create more fairness in the tax code.

There are so many things wrong with Obama's statement above. They are, from least to most important: the idea of fairness, what people are spending money on, who will get those tax cuts/Obama's naivete, redistribution of wealth, whether this is good for our economy and anticipated objections.

1. The idea of fairness.

Tax cuts seem like a good thing, don't they? Taking less money from those who don't have much to begin with- it seems nice and, a favorite liberal word (used above by Obama), fair.

But I ask you to consider whether giving money to people at the lowest income levels- the people who are least likely to have worked the most (hence their low income status); the very same people whose unpaid loans largely contributed to the mortgage crisis; the people most likely to depend on the government for welfare assistance, social security checks and free health care services- is fair, or is the complete opposite?

You there, middle-class American citizen: do you work to pay your family's bills, housing and food costs? Do you pay taxes which provide gas, electric, garbage removal, clean water services, recycling in your city? Do you depend on health insurance from your employer or a private company for your family's well-being?

If so, you are doing what could be called unfair; you are paying taxes into a pool of local and national government services that provide for someone else. (In fact, a lot of somebody elses.)
But you know why you pay taxes- you believe that for your use of these services you should pay for them. It would be stealing otherwise, right?

2. What people are spending their money on.

I was going to write "hard-earned" money, but then remembered I'm including everyone here!
Obama seems to think that people who will receive the biggest tax cut will spend that economic stimulus money on things like "a new computer for their kid's school."

Aw, that's sort of sweet in a totally naive way. But I doubt it's the first thing people will think to spend that money on. I'm thinking more like a flat-screen t.v. or a Wii (or a second one) will occupy people's minds in early 2009. Did you know that many stores offered no fee to cash stimulus checks last year in exchange for a gift card in the amount that could be used only at that store. Wal-Mart was one of them; they might want to reconsider that this time, in lieu of recent events. Extra savings might prove extra deadly.

I digress. What do people at the low-income level spend money on? If living amongst them and actually seeing them go about their business is any indication, money is spent on clothing, entertainment, cars, gas, pets, food and drink. After all, if you didn't have to pay for most of your groceries, your rent, health care, baby supplies and food, or education, what would you be spending on?

3. Who will get these tax cuts/Obama's naivete/redistribution.

See #2. In addition, let's talk a bit more about who will get these "tax cuts."

You see, Obama and the liberal left are always talking about how people who are the "most disadvantaged" are "most deserving" of a break. The fact is people at the lowest income level are already receiving a lot of breaks from the government, and a tax cut is just another one.

More importantly, 80% of taxes are paid by people at the highest 50% of income level. People in the lowest 20% income bracket only pay 5% of all taxes paid. The fact behind these statistics is that people in the lowest income bracket do not, for the most part, pay any taxes at all. So to give them a "tax cut" really means to cut them a check for absolutely nothing.

This is that "redistribution of wealth" thing you're not hearing about anymore.

Here's a simpler way of putting it: when the government writes everyone a check, where does that money come from? Could it be from taxes? If not, where? Don't say "the budget," because that's just pushing the question back one step (what money is the budget comprised of?).

If some people are paying no taxes and others are paying most taxes... who do you think is paying for this stimulus package?

4. Will a tax cut/stimulus package be good for our economy?

Personally I loved that economic stimulus package from President Bush; it was some extra money I could pay bills off with (yes, that's what I did with it). But studies have shown that our economy was no better off following the bundles of money poured back into it from the checks being spent.

It is a typical Democratic response (which demonstrates Bush's segue from conservative ideals) when a problem arises in an area to throw money at it (See: $700 billion big bank bailout, proposed auto industry bailout). Government has been doing it with the public education system for decades and schools are worse than ever, with humanism running rampant and self-esteem bankrupting kids of learning useful skills.

So, is one more "throw-money-at-it" solution going to help?

5. Anticipated objections to my argument.

Personally, I think the low income class has too much slack which may be why they have become so dependent; if your essential needs were already provided by someone else, how motivated would you be to get up early every day to look for a job, and work hard enough to keep it?

Furthermore, it's a misnomer to call these people "disadvantaged." They have just as many opportunities to work as anyone else. Your objection, "But Victoria, people like this are disabled, or can't work, or are prejudiced against by people who don't want to give them jobs!"

Really? I've worked with kids with serious mental and physical disabilities, and their parents. I've also worked in homeless shelters and with other people so-called "unfit" for the work environment. And it's true, some of them couldn't work because of severe physical impairment, but most often it was because they "didn't feel like it" (a response I heard often from parents of kids with an SSI check every month that covered the bills).

In fact most of the "disadvantaged" people I've known - including a homeless man and a woman with the mental development of a ten-year-old - had jobs of some kind and, though they didn't pay well, earned them pride and satisfaction in their work, as well as the respect of their able-minded and -bodied coworkers.

All this made them want to keep working... See the difference?

If we are considering the bigger picture here, we have to admit that there are all kinds of jobs available to anyone who wants them. For instance if you don't believe that there are "some jobs Americans don't want to do" that illegal immigrants snatch up, you should have no problem accepting that people with no job at all could/should accept a job picking fruit or cleaning hotel rooms.

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