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"Tax and Spend" Liberals. We hear that every election cycle. I find it amusing. The role of government is to provide infrastructure and services to the people it (theoretically) represents. In order to fund these services, the government must raise money. Government raises money through taxation. Government provides services by allocating money and spending for those services. Calling an elected official a tax and spend liberal is idiotic. It would be like trying to denigrate someone by calling them a "breathe-in, breathe-out" conservative.


(the entire "ABC's of Corpocracy" series is available here)

Measuring Society

One of the most interesting measures of an entity(nation, state, city, village, family) is how its resources are allocated (both the process as well as the allocation). In America the government establishes a budget based upon our past debt, current needs and future vision for our country. We attempt to elect a government that will represent the will of "We the people" in the budget process. There are mandatory payments, and payments that are discretionary. Any money expended should satisfy any debt and serve to make America stronger for future generations. Once the budget requirements are determined, government raises money through taxation and/or borrowing funds.


The Tax Part

As a society we need to be secure on a global scale so funds are allocated for defense and intelligence. We need security on a local level so we fund first-responders such as police, fire and paramedics. We need to support travel and commerce so we build roads, highways, rail systems and airports. In order to be strong we must have a well-educated society so we fund an education system. Not everyone in our society may be capable of productivity and so we fund basic social services to ensure everyone can live their lives with dignity and a reasonable quality of life. We want to be certain that future generations can experience the unique beauty of America, its mountains, beaches (or shores -if you live back east), lakes and forests, so we create a system of national parks and maintain them. Government must maintain a balance that encourages commerce and economic growth, yet also make sure that its people are protected from environmental harm and are treated fairly by corporations (at least until Reagan accelerated the marginalization of Unions and Bush eviscerated environmental protection and enforcement). We must raise a significant amount of money to pay for services. A large portion of this money is raised through taxation. Think of it as a membership fee we pay to belong to a society with abundant resources and sizable advantages so our families and communities can continue to enjoy abundance and advantage.


The Spend Part

Throughout time, society may prioritize the allocation differnently because of internal or external events. Late 18th century America would likely not allocate much for the space program or freeways. The thought of an EPA superfund, fighting communism and government backed faith-based initiatives  would not have been a priority either. And although we attempt to elect officials to represent our will, there is never a guarantee that they will actually represent "We the People". They may decide that it requires a significant amount of money to run a successful campaign (election or re-election) and therefore will represent those that have significant power and influence instead of you and me. One need not look further than Abramoff, Delay or Cunningham for recent examples of our will being subverted by money and influence. So spending is complex. You have the changing will of the people. You have the seperate actions of Congress and the Executive Branch either or both of which may be vastly different than the needs or wants of society. And then you have the politics ("you vote to allocate money to my pork project and I'll vote for your stupid thing"). There is also always tension in any budget between items of long-term significance and short-term wants or needs.


How were your recent (2005) federal income tax dollars spent? (Source: National Priorities Project)

Of the $1000.00 you paid in taxes:

  $285.00 goes to the military
  $187.00 goes to pay the interest on the debt
  $202.00 goes to health care
  $66.00 goes to income security
  $41.00 goes to education
  $37.00 goes to benefits for veterans
  $27.00 goes to nutrition spending
  $20.00 goes to housing
  $14.00 goes to environmental protection
  $3.00 goes to job training
$116.00 goes to all other expenses


This means that between "defense" spending (which is increasing due to the continued occupation of Iraq) and interest on our debt (which is increasing because of the fiscal policies of the present government), 47.2%, nearly 1/2 of revenue raised through income taxation is spent on guns, tanks and interest. This is from the government that claims "Family Values" and "Compassionate Conservativism". The fiscal actions of the U.S. Government at present are neither compassionate or conservative.


Let's look at it a different way -from a family values perspective -imagine you are an American family of four, mom, dad and two children. Together mom and dad make $50,000 net per year. Here's what your household budget looks like if we apply the U.S. budget on a percentage basis to your household on a monthly basis:


Family Monthly Income: $4,200
$1,200 per month is spent on  Guns and Ammo
$780 is spent on interest payments on your loans
$850 is spent on doctors, dentists and prescriptions
$85 is spent per child for a teacher, books and school supplies
$83 is spent on rent


This means that the Bush/Cheney government that pontificates the vision of "Family Values" spends most of our American family money on bombs and interest on rising debt. Is it any wonder that the American "family" is torn apart? The future for any society is the system of education, based upon the budget, do you still believe that this government is strengthening the American future?  What would a fiscal conservative recommend if they saw the monthly budget depicted above? Would they recommend shifting some of the expenditure to reduce debt so that it wasn't the third highest payment in our family budget? I'll tell you what a true fiscal conservative wouldn't do. He or she wouldn't say "You've got too much income, you need to reduce it.". That is precisely what Bush/Cheney have done. By attempting to eliminate estate taxes altogether, reducing the income tax percentage on the highest bracket and slashing capital gains taxes. The claim is that this stimulates the American economy. What it actually does is accelerate the consolidation of wealth and power. This will perpetuate the trend to plunder our natural resources, sell off our national parks and preserves and diminish quality of life and opportunities for many generations of Americans.


Whether you are a conservative or liberal you should be very alarmed at the trend of this government to plunge America into deeper debt, ruin the environment and cause us to expend even more of our resources on defense as the world grows in its hatred of our barbaric policies, our lack of international treaty cooperation  and our contempt for international bodies.


We need a government that will rise above corruption and represent the will of the American people. "We the People" want an America that is strong, fair and respected within the world community, that can lead by example and not by force. We want opportunity for all our youth (not just Paris Hilton or the Bush Twins) that extends beyond military service, prison or violent death on our streets. We want to take our children on a picnic near an unpolluted stream in a national or state park that is not owned by Chevron or Exxon. We must have a world-class system of education with small, safe classrooms and safe neighborhoods for all. We want fresh air and safe drinking water. We want to dream again of what is possible when humanity is working together at its best -toward the exploration of space and our oceans. We want cures for AIDS and cancer. We want an energy policy that is predicated on clean, renewable energy from the wind, the sun or hydrogen that is cheap and will not cause environmental or planetary harm. We need a government that will use our military judiciously and will equip them with the resources they need to be safe when they must go into harm's way. All of these things are within our grasp. As a people, and as important as many polarizing issues are to us, we must put our differences aside. While we continue to be divided across race, class, gender and religion our pockets are all being picked.


Tax and spend is the job of the government. It is also their job to represent the will of its people. And if they aren't going to do their job, let's find representatives that will. November 2006 is a good time to begin to put America on course.

 

Just a few thoughts from my over-caffeinated alphabetic mind.  


About the Author: Mr. Polisner founded alonovo.com in March of 2005. He has been working in most aspects of Information Technology since 1981 and was an early commercial adopter of the UNIX operating system. Prior to founding alonovo.com, George was a Director at Oracle Corporation. He is a frequent contributor to newspapers regarding political and economic policy and often appears as a guest on radio programs. In fact, when it comes to alonovo.com, it's pretty difficult to get him to stop talking.

Originally posted to 100yearmarch on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:10 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  once again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    100yearmarch, llbear, Cronesense

    We fall short because we don't take the uncomfortable-but-necessary step of (pardon the pun) "calling a spade a spade" when elaborating upon the demonization of "taxes" by the right wing.

    Let's be clear and forthright so we can get our minds together about what is really going on: when they say "no new taxes" or "tax and spend" or "taxes are the enemy," what they are really saying is "I'll make sure none of your hard-earned money goes to those freeloading, too-many-baby-having, no-job-having, crack-smoking niggers".  

    Get it yet?  This is what they are, this is what their base is about, and they are appealing to an impulse, horrifying and backwards as it is, that is way, way beyond the merely "political".  "Taxes" is another word for "free ride for 'them'"...because the right wingers are ultimately driven by a reactionary fear of "the other" in whatever they do.  "They" can be the gays, with their "gay agenda" of converting all the straight children to "their side" (hopefully we can do this before 2 pm, because this fag here has to get to the gym and then to a late lunch!), it can be the "terrorists" [the lynchpin of our entry into the Mideast in general and Iraq in particular is essentially advertised by the Administration to its Republican base as "They hate our freedoms and we are there to 'civilize' them with Democracy-- because they are inferior and can't get such a transformation underway without our (paternalistic) help], but when the subject is taxes, you bet they are pushing the button that exists in so many people that says "Press Here for Atavistic, Primordial Racism".

    This is how they get so many people on board with voting and thinking and acting against those people's most obvious material interest.  As our dutiful diarist has noted, it's the taxes that build the schools, pave the roads, pick up the garbage... it's the taxes that pay for a society to functionally exist in the first place, right?  We all chip in and shit gets done so we don't drown in our own disorganized filth.  Yet so many people, if you asked them, they'd say they want NO taxes at all, and will vote time after time emphatically against any politician or candidate that even marginally espouses or suggests so much as a modest increase in taxation of any kind.  Wow.

    We have got to get after sussing the game that's being played at every level, and like it or not, that game is the intentional suspension and prospective elimination of all powers of critical thinking that exist in the population of these United States.  You don't do this with mere political rhetoric, you do this by evoking and promoting a visceral tone and timbre of fear and psychosis is all spheres of public life, at all times.  You go for the hatreds and fears way down deep in people, way down beyond politics and into the psyche, into the zones of atavistic, unconscious reactive fear that all Humans share regardless of their self-perceived political or ideological affiliations, baby.

    When it comes to taxes and people not wanting to pay them, it's beyond the obvious "Oh, I want more of my money for myself."  What is really being stroked and stoked are the fires within, still burning despite the relative improvements of the last 40 years since Civil and Voting Rights legislation and the attendant revolution in social values, that want to make sure that money is kept AWAY from someone else, whether thet "they" is real or imagined.

    "Some of you are going to die... martyrs, of course, to the Freedom that I will provide!"

    by emperor nobody on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:44:21 AM PDT

  •  Non-discretionary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cronesense

    spending is the main problem in my mind. Only 1/3 of our budget is discretionary, which means our representatives only get to set up spending for 1/3 of the budget every year. The rest has already been made law in previous years and is required. More money is spent every year on Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security than Defense. Far more.

    And also lets not demonize defense spending too much by comparing it to the family home. A good government is a government that protects its citizens. The government spends money on Defense so the citizens don't have to. That's the idea. So, how about we not pick on the idea of Defense spending too much (though individual things within Defense spending deserve criticism).

    Really, I feel "entitlement" programs are a major problem. These are part of the mandatory spending every year. Here's the issue: a) "entitlement program" makes people feel like they are entitled to it, as if it were a right, and so they don't want to give it up (beekeepers don't want to give up that subsidy because they are entitled!) b) the cost for each individual program is too small to make people care. So, while the cost of each individual program is small, they are all a huge drain when taken together. Do you care enough about your 1/4 cent to lobby its removal? Not as much as the recipients are willing to lobby to keep it I assure you!

    When taken in this light, Welfare, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid are all large-scale, heavy-duty entitlement programs. But no one will touch them for fear of getting burned. We need people with some balls who would take a real hard look at these programs and determine their real worth. Make real changes, not just shift around the same stuff that's been there for years.

    •  Entitlements (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, Cronesense

      I think a measure of any society is how they treat the elderly, infirmed, youth and disadvantaged. While I agree that as individuals we must take responsibility for ourselves and families, the "entitlements" I find reprehensable are those that preclude a free-market (such as corporate bail-outs). If I have a choice to provide tax revenue to ExxonMobil so Lee Raymond can take a $400 million dollar retirement package, or provide a small amount of revenue so an impoverished single mother in the inner city can feed her family, the choice to me is clear.

      I am interested in incentives such that individuals and business can thrive and create opportunity, but a future bail out of  GM (mark my words, its coming) because of their lack of vision and understanding about producing energy-efficeint vehicles (as opposed to the Hummer) is total free-market interference. In the unlikely event I am selected to run GM by the U.S. Bankruptcy court, most of their executives will be retired very, very early.

  •  Turn around & shake hands with the far right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    100yearmarch, Cronesense

    They are livid about the National Debt.  Run away Congressional spending is another of their mantras. THE most conservative man I know thinks that Dennis Hastert has totally lost it when it comes to budgetary restraint. He's on the verge of voting against Hastert - but don't suggest that he will be voting for a Progressive Democrat.

    So, turn around & shake hands with the far right - and offer them a Kleenex for their tears.

    John Laesch - Denny Hastert's successor - Note to DNC: time to avenge Tom Foley

    by llbear on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 12:59:25 PM PDT

    •  Kleenex (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear

      Better, hand them a tissue from Seventh Generation. I've heard it's best not to purchase Kimberly-Clark products these days.

      Deep conservatives know they have made a deal with the devil to get a few of their issues on the agenda. They are beginning to understand they have severely weakened America and jeopardized are future with a risky and irresponsible environmental, energy and foreign agenda.

      When insurance companies and all of the wealth they represent start to clamp down on the neocon/fascist agenda because they will be nearing insolvency with all of the pending disasters attributable to global warming. Interesting that Bush's name is G.W. isn't it? Who says the universe doesn't have a sense of humor?

      G

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