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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, September 30, 2004

Spend spend

This is the first year (in recent memory) in which Social Security will take in less money than it pays out. Don't rely on the media to point out an important milestone like this (especially not in an election where Kerry insists that there is nothing wrong with Social Security), but history will record that federal money will be used to cover the 3.6% shortfall that Social Security funds could not pay for in 2004.

It will soon get a lot worse. By 2020, Social Security and Medicare are expected to cost the government more than a trillion dollars per year.

Using the standard accounting practices common in the corporate world, the US government is technically insolvent. The corporate executives...err politicians who got us into the mess should be behind bars.

Social Security is supposed to be financed entirely by the payroll tax. All Americans pay the payroll tax (a tax which is inexplicably only applied to the first $80,000 or so of income). The tax burden of the payroll tax is so large that most Americans pay much more payroll tax than they do in income tax.

In the fantasy world of Washington, they are paying for their retirement. In reality, they are paying for the current retirees. The financing of their own golden years will depend on whether they can convince today's young people to endure excessive taxes that the young never had the opportunity to vote on.

At the very least, it’s taxation without representation.

I just think of it as fraud.

There is plenty of that going around.

For example, everyone gets to vote on how today's income tax receipts are spent, despite the fact that 96% percent of government revenue - the money that runs everything except Social Security and Medicare - is paid by only half the people.

And it gets worse: 60% of our tax revenue is paid by only 10% of the people.

Those filthy rich.

Imagine a party where ten guys get together and decide to buy pizza. Instead of everyone chipping in, they vote to make their doctor friend pay for just about everything, and threaten him violence if he doesn't.

That is the American system.

A libertarian would argue that this is legalized theft. So would the Founding Fathers. They warned about such things when they made no provision for the income tax.

Liberal baby boomers, lacking spiritual compulsion to support charity on their own, have used this money to salve their guilty consciences: trying to “end” poverty, “provide healthcare and to all,” subsidize “affordable” housing and enable every retiree to live "worry free" in old age.

It doesn’t matter that most of the government programs have failed terribly. They weren’t meant to actually solve anything; they were meant to make voters feel better about themselves. The most affluent and self absorbed generation in American history takes from the rich and spends the money to relieve their guilt.

When the money collected from the rich isn’t enough, they hand my generation – and my children – the bill.

It’s the old maxim: nobody spends like somebody who is spending other people’s money.

How do you solve it?

Neal Boortz presents an interesting argument. He proposes treating votes in the same way corporations do with their shareholders; that is, the more shares you own, the more say you have:
If you paid $24,999.00 or less in income taxes in 2003, you get one vote in the 2004. Taxpayers forking over between $25,000 and $49,999 get two votes, and so on. A taxpayer who pays $200,000 in income taxes will be casting eight votes on election day. To keep Hillary from controlling an election the next time she gets a huge bonus to write a book we’ll go ahead and make eight the maximum number of votes any individual can cast.

Don’t you just love it? The people who actually fuel our economy with their hard work and attention to decisions will get a greater voice in the direction our country takes! What a concept!

People who live on government assistance do not get to vote on how tax money is spent, anymore than non-shareholders get to vote on the way Ford spends its profits.

The idea of using tax money to buy votes from retirees or welfare recipients goes out the window. Democrats - who have been doing this so long that they cannot see its perversity - would be aghast.

Boortz' idea is interesting. And it should - but won't - spark an important debate about the fairness of our tax system.

I admit it won't work, at least not when the lawyers get done with it. And the reason that it won't work tells us a lot about the welfare state that is modern America. We have been using tax money to buy the votes of Americans for so long that we would scarcely know what to do if we couldn’t do it anymore.

In reality, almost everyone is a recipient of some form of government help.

My company benefits from the fact that the government buys tons of medicine for poor people. Farmers get subsidies; factory workers have defense contracts. Insurance companies and airlines get government bailouts. People working for the government have their jobs.

Of course, you could just make it simple and say whoever pays actual taxes - not just chipping for retirement - gets to vote.

But whoever said anything the government did could be simple?

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