Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Don't Take The Wrong Side On Taxes

From time to time, the need arises to debate true liberal thinking. This is exciting to me because battle lines are clearly drawn: there is no misinformation, there is no confusion—just two people on different sides of the same issue that both think they are right, but cannot both be right.

Such is the case with a letter writer to The Capital on Sunday, who defends the need for massively higher taxes. So says she:

Every time there is a legitimate need to raise money to support government services, we hear an outcry from Republicans that only more cuts in the spending will solve the problem. Their methods for achieving tax savings include privatization, deregulation, and gutting the social safety net.

That’s right. The private market works better than any government central control, no matter how smart the government people are, because they cannot possibly know the quality of life choices that individuals will make.

Does anybody think that the government spends our money efficiently? Heck no: often they waste it. For this reason, we should allow the government to spend money only when absolutely necessary and on things that the private market cannot provide. In other words, governments should provide public goods.

As for cuts in spending versus raising taxes, consider this: Gov. Ehrlich left a $1 billion surplus to Gov. O’Malley. The new Gov. spent that plus another $1.7 billion! And you deny that we have a spending problem??!! Now consider this: if the state passed a pill requiring state employees to be on the same prescription drug plan as the rest of us private citizens—rather than being subsidized by taxpayers—the state would save $250 million per year, or 15% of the deficit!! What else can we cut??!!

And for the social safety net—do you realize what you are saying!!!!!!!!!!! The social safety net is not some sort of magical cousin of the beanstalk (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame)—it does not grow out of the ground and exist to help any who may make a financial fall. All social safety nets are funded by taxes. To quote my American Economic History text:

Taxation in its crudest form is simply forcible seizure of property by a monarch for personal use. What the monarch does with the property is the monarch's business, not that of its former owners. This simple explanation is a most useful one for comprehending taxation. Unless the monarch's subjects have equal incomes and identical desires, unless they lose equal amounts of property, there is no way for taxation to be 'equal' or 'fair'.

Social safety nets are funded by YOU AND ME. So, when someone receives a government handout, they are receiving money that other people earned.

These extreme fiscal policy makeovers have increased the national debt and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on undelivered services, inferior weaponry and shoddy workmanship on no-bid contract awarded to Halliburton, Bechtel and Blackwater USA.

You are all over the place. The war in Iraq, just like every other war ever, has increased our debt. It is not the policies of deregulation, privatization, or gutting of social safety net that cause debt to increase—THOSE THINGS ACTUALLY SAVE MONEY.

Furthermore, which services are undelivered?? If you ask me, we provide too many services. And further furthermore, what convinces you that we have inferior weaponry? I’m quite sure that we have the biggest military budget in the world, and that we have the best weapons in the world, if not enough of them. Seriously.

President Bush refuses to enforce our laws and downsized the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, putting citizens at risk.

What laws has he refused to enforce? If anything, he oversteps his authority in enforcing laws, or so goes the criticism. And considering the woeful inadequacy and disorganization of FEMA in the Katrina aftermath, wouldn’t you think that downsizing such as wasteful agency would be a good thing? At least then people would have more of their own money to help themselves.

On a side note, the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans are set to ask the federal government—which means you and me—for BILLIONS of more dollars to fund their roads, because the billions they got weren’t enough.

This contagion reached state and local governments. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich defanged the Maryland Department of the Environment. The residents of Gambrills are still paying the price. Since 1999, hazardous waste from fly ash has been poisoning their wells and polluting the air.

What contagion—what are you talking about?

County Executive Janet Owens—who was not a Republican—gutted zoning enforcement and promoted sprawl. Remember Dobbins Island?

You have clearly consulted the citizen manual “Letter to the Editor Writing For Dummies”, which told you to mention as many issues as possible but provide no support or facts for any of them.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is obligated to serve the common needs of a growing population by sustaining adequate funding for education, police and fire services, water and sewer service, and roadway construction. These are all core government responsibilities, none of which should be privatized.

No, he freeking is not!!!!! Exclamation Point. Education: paid for by counties but subizided ineffectually by the sate. Police and fire: county and/or city funded. Water and sewer: also local jurisdictions. Roadway construction: only on state highways—cities maintain their roads and so does the federal government.

If taxes had to be raised to provide these services, you would have half an argument. The Governor is spending his money on—who knows what. The essential services will not be affected.

You are, remarkably, correct that these things should not be privatized, but we can do them quite well using the $30 billion in tax money that the state already gets.

Mr. O’Malley has made his cuts.

Oh please. He didn’t cut anything. Instead of creating 800 new state jobs, he created 1000 state jobs and said he was cutting 200 of them. Why did he do this? So people like you would be happy paying more taxes.

It’s now time to stop corporate welfare by closing tax loopholes, and to raise the sales tax to 6 percent on goods and services—not on food.

I have to admit, I have never heard anyone so much in favor of raising taxes. You do realize that your family will have less money if you have to pay a 6% sales tax on goods AND services, right?

I don’t know if food is exempted, but I do know that under the Governor’s plan, lawyers are exempted from the sales tax on services. Does this sound fair to you, or does it sound like special interest elitism? If we really needed the money, everyone would pay.

We should create a fair, graduated income tax but rethink slot machines. Gambling and gaming are addictive and destructive to families.

Fair and graduated are mutually exclusive! If you want a fair tax, charge everyone the same percentage! Why is this so hard to understand?!! On the other hand, if you want a graduated tax that penalizes people for working hard and making more money, then you are a liberal.

I never asked for a free ride, but I expect my taxpayer dollars to support a strong, effective, functioning government.

Our tax dollars will support all the government we need at the current, if not lower, level. You are out of your mind.


scott_api said...

Got to disagree with you on part of this…

“It is not the policies of deregulation, privatization, or gutting of social safety net that cause debt to increase—THOSE THINGS ACTUALLY SAVE MONEY.”

Privatization may save money. If you can follow her tortured logic, she may be trying to say the no-bid contracts to Bechtel and Haliburton have squandered money, not saved it. She doesn’t reach any conclusion with her argument, but buried within the rambling diatribe her word processor spit out, she has a valid point.

The rational behind giving so many of those contracts to Haliburton, et al. was that no-one else had the expertise to do the work. I submit that if only one entity possesses the expertise being looked for, than what you have is an inefficient market. In fact, without competition, there is no market. There is no indication (and should be no expectation) that the contractor is giving value for money. In this case, the government could (and should) employee the people doing the work directly, therefore cutting out layers of management salaries, sales commissions and other overhead expenses. The government can get the same services cheaper by doing the work themselves.

Brian Gill said...

In the interest of saving time, I didn't go into enough of an analysis as would have been useful....

As you suggest, there is probably waste when contracts go to monopolisitic firms such as Halliburton. I still don't know if the government could do it more cheaply, becaue they have layers of management too.

Let's take the example of Halliburton..they have a monopoly on many things that they sell because they are the only one with the expertise to do it. What's just as interesting is that in addition to the market being monopolistic, it is probably also monopsonistic--which means that there is only 1 BUYER of the product (the U.S. gov't) in addition to there being only 1 SELLER!

I am way to ametuer of an economist to figure out how exatly that works--my point about privatization was intended in the general sense for markets that experience a high level of competition, few barriers to entry, and homogeneous products.

scott_api said...

I don't doubt you are correct. I saw an opening to rant on a pet peeve of mine and I took it. If there is only one buyer and one seller, I think that the buyer should be producing the product or service themselves. Especially when it's my money being spent for the product or service.