The Picture On The Box

On a Sunday news show last weekend, one of the regulars was criticizing the Republicans’ 2012 budget proposal before it was even released. His gripe was that it doesn’t raise taxes on the “rich”. Of course, it doesn’t raise taxes on anyone, but that wasn’t his complaint. The guy thinks the rich, whoever they are because he didn’t throw out a figure, have to pay more because they’re not paying enough. As far as he’s concerned, they never pay enough.

Wow, really? Here’s a better idea. Before we force fit pieces of our fiscal jigsaw puzzle together, let’s take a look at the picture on the box. What are we supposed to be assembling? So far, our two political sides haven’t figured that out. They’re focused on different actions, if they have an action plan at all, rather than addressing the basic question. They’re both concentrating, sort of, on the debt, which is beginning to sound the death knell for our economy. But, that staggering load is just a symptom of what’s wrong. If we manage to get by it this time, what then?

To weather the current storm, Dems insist on raising taxes while the GOP’s weapon of choice is the axe. Which one is right depends on whether we’re taxing too little or spending too much. Was the news guy just being a liberal knee jerk or do the feds actually need more revenue? The answer lies in the purpose of the federal government. The picture on the outside of the puzzle box is of government as it’s supposed to be. That picture should determine the actions we take today and everyday.

In our federal tax history, government spending has driven the tax burden, not the other way around. We’ve never tried to figure out what a fair tax is and spend according to the revenue it generates. Instead, spending is the whip that makes the tax horse run. Unfortunately, for generations, federal spending has been motivated by political gain for one party or the other. Rather than a disciplined exercise with the big picture in mind, it has become a hodge-podge of mainly welfare handouts. That tactic, which we’ve come to accept as the norm, serves politicians well. But, it has brought us to the brink of financial ruin.

So, what should the federal government be doing? Here are some choices:

– According to the White House website, government exists to enact the will of the people.

– According to a basic liberal tenet, government takes care of people.

– According to me, government supplies a few common services that the states can’t provide as well.

We all know the will of the people thing isn’t right. Back in the day, the people’s will was used to deny rights to large groups of citizens. After quite a while, the courts stopped that nonsense. But, the majority is perfectly capable of making bad choices again. Then there’s today. The “will of the people” has become a pat phrase politicians use to impose their will on the people.

As for taking care of people, Uncle Sam makes a pretty scary nanny with those long legs, the scraggily beard and bony, pointing fingers. That’s because the Constitution, which provides for equal rights and equal protection, is not about making people equal. As far as the feds go, people are assured equal opportunities, not equal results. It’s up to them, as individuals, to make something of themselves. And if they don’t, that’s on them, too.

So, what’s the federal government about? It’s about providing a common defense, facilitating interstate trade, enforcing Constitutional rights and not much else. The massive federal welfare programs should simply end. Make the states responsible for their own residents. Let them be like Massachusetts with its big social programs and high tax rate. Or they can be among the many that are trying to claw their way out of the money pit.

Either way, we stop the nasty practice of burdening the responsible with the foolishness of the irresponsible. Isn’t that a nice picture?

See you in the mirror.