Monday, February 8, 2010

America the Entitled? If We Can't Pay For It, We Can't Have It

There are two things you are never supposed to discuss in polite company, religion and politics.  I plan on breaking half of that rule today.

I read in today's paper that my city council agreed 6-3 to add sales tax to all food.  The state is also considering a 1% tax increase across the board.  That last increase would give my city a 9.3% tax on all purchases except food, where there would be a 2% tax.

At what point does the size of our government become larger than the people's ability to support it?  While they are raising taxes, our ability to pay decreases.  The more they ask of us, the less we have to give.  We have seen our property values inflated beyond their actual market value; in fact, when my home lost 50% of its value, my property tax went up.

Schools are having funding pulled, community services are declining and benefits for community members are decreasing.  There is complaining coming from all sides.

I wrote an blog a while back about entitlement, and that is the problem here.  We have a society of entitlement.  We feel entitled to services and the government feels entitled to funding.  Right now our taxes are a percentage of our income and spending.  Logic tells us that when our income and spending go down, so does our tax contributions.  With less money in the public coffers, we have a limited ability to support our government.

History has shown what happens when governments overtax their people and it never turns out well for the government.  There is only so much taxation a society will accept before it takes drastic measures to change the government.

Now before you wonder about my patriotism, I am very proud to be an American.  I value my citizenship, I vote, and I stand up for what I believe.  What I am saying here should not be a surprise.  A government cannot survive when it is a drain on the society it serves.  That said, we need to all look at the purpose of our governments, both nationally and locally.

If you take a look at our Constitution you will not see reference to unemployment insurance, medical coverage, free education, local libraries, community parks, public transit, senior centers, or a myriad of other services we feel entitled to.  We have added those expectations along the way.  We have spent over 200 years adding to our government wish list.

The hard part for our local governments is that our tax system is designed to work best when people are spending money.  Our federal government, and sometimes our state governments take a slice of what we earn and save, but our local governments only get a chunk of what we spend.  The less we spend, the less they get.  Currently local governments are trying to raise their revenue by increasing their share of taxes.

If we follow that logic, as a business owner, I should increase my prices so I can afford the extra taxes being put on me and my employees.  Oh wait.  I can't, because if I increase prices people will stop buying my product and I will make less money, meaning I will have less to spend and less to contribute to the tax base.

Hmmm.  This sounds like a complex problem.  We want what we can't afford.  We want a government which can provide for us in many ways, but we can't afford to pay them.

If I couldn't afford to pay my landscaper, he would stop providing services, he would not start charging me more. How is it our government, which is there at the will of the people, believes they have the right to force us to pay for that which we can not afford?

I can hear some of you saying, "What! Cut services?  We can't do that!  People need doctors, transportation and emergency services."  You are right to a point.  People would like those things, but they are not a requirement.  They make our quality of life better, but are not needed for our government to survive.

As a people we will have to determine what items are most important to us and cut out the rest.  I realize this means we will eliminate jobs.  Back to the landscaper example; if enough of the landscaper's customers could not afford his services he would be forced to cut back on staff to stay profitable.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned a government free from oppression.  The irony is we added so many requirements to our government that we made it oppressive.  We have asked for more than we can pay for.  We are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but not much more.

From the United States Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

So here is the sum of this blog.  I love this country.  I love freedoms and liberty.  I do not love the entitlement which asks our government to provide more than it has resources for.  If we can not afford it, we can not have it.  Increasing our taxes puts a burden on our citizens which will harm businesses, harm families and harm our country.  If there is less money we must spend less.

I am sure I have stirred up a hornet's nest with this blog, so I ask you to respond with honor and dignity.  Keep it clean and keep it polite.  I invite comments, even criticism, but no profanity.  Thanks.

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