Thomas Sowell recently wrote an excellent column, Taxes and Politics, that got me to thinking about the US government’s taxing problem. Please read the entire article. Here are some excerpts:
Someone once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. That may have been true when he said it, but today taxes are mostly the price we pay so that politicians can play Santa Claus and get reelected.
We may think of taxes as just a source of government revenue. But tax rates are a big political statement on the left, whether they bring in any revenue or not. Tax rates are meant to make an ideological statement and promote class-warfare politics, not just bring in revenue.
Our corporate tax rates are higher than in many other countries. That may have something to do with the fact that many American corporations (including General Electric) expand their operations in many other countries, providing jobs– and tax revenues– in those other countries.
But high-tax ideologues don’t see it that way. They would be horrified at the idea that we ought to lower our corporate tax rates, just so that more American businesses would do more of their business at home, providing more Americans with much-needed jobs.
To ideologues, that is just a cop-out from the class-warfare battle. It is far more important to them to score their political points against “the rich” or “Wall Street” than that a few million more Americans out of work would be able to find jobs.
The idealism of the left is a very selfish idealism. In their war against “the rich” and big business, they don’t care how much collateral damage there is to workers who end up unemployed.
The time is long overdue to start thinking about taxes as sources of revenue, not as ways of making political statements.
While the points Thomas Sowell made were directed at the left, I only wish it were true that only those elected to congress with a D after their name are making political statements so they can play Santa Claus and get reelected. Unfortunately, I watch how they vote, and note that some members of the GOP also like to play Santa Claus. Unfortunately, there are not a large number of elected constitutional conservatives who view taxes strictly as sources of revenue vs the means for making political statements. This is why the title, Our Government Has a Taxing Problem.
When so many congressmen are diddling with the US tax code to target a class of people or product for a tax rate hike or a tax rate cut, they are doing it to make a political statement. At best, and I am too jaded and cynical to ever envision it happening, is to scrap the entire US tax code, and replace it with a simpler, flatter, and broad based income tax that could be modified with the same ease the US Constitution is modified. Stability and certainty are important factors for any business.
Unfortunately there are just too many career politicians who consider themselves as the ruling class, and they really do not want to relinquish the power of controlling the nanny state and playing Santa Claus to get reelected. We voters need to send these folks home, and replace them with people like Congressman Dan Benishek.
There is a great American Dream that folks like our current President are clueless about. Our nation’s greatness did not just happen after 1932 when the US government workforce grew like crazy, and new entitlements became law. Cornelius Vanderbilt lived the dream using his skills running passenger ships with his own money better than his government-subsidized competition ran their ships in the 1820’s. James J. Hill lived the dream using his skills running a transcontinental railroad with his own money better than his government-subsidized competition ran their railroads in the 1880’s. When a nanny state government controls too much, and you are not risking your own money in your pursuit of happiness, then you won’t have the same amount of success as the self-reliant man. This is an important history lesson that should be remembered.
Some people believe they want to depend on politicians playing Santa Claus. They want to rack up so many tax credits and tax deductions that the government gives them a refund. I am not one of them. I do not get any credits and deductions, and the only time the US government gets any income tax money from me is at the last minute on tax day. I choose this pain because I know I do manage money better than the US government. I already embrace Thomas Sowell’s thinking about taxes. I wish more folks thought less about making political statements.