NOTE: My statements are not necessarily my opinions. I often post point-counterpoint essays in which I strongly take one side of an issue and later counter that with antithetical views. This intellectual exercise helps me see the merit in opposing opinions and augments my creativity.

A question to ask politicians

Why do politicians act as if they have a God-given right to put their hands in our pockets and take even more of our money? Americans already pay a staggering percentage of their income in taxes, but most of those taxes are so cleverly disguised that few people realize they're paying them. Furthermore, the value of what we receive in return for those taxes is very low; if you think the government is wisely spending our money, you're either in kindergarten or the kind of ignorant fool that politicians love, because your stupidity gives them free rein to continue their profligate waste.

Michigan lawmakers hiked the state income tax several months ago, earnestly claiming that they'd cut all of the fat from the state budget. And what did they do next? Spend over $300,000 to construct a fence to keep turtles from crossing the road in one spot. First, when many Michigan residents are forced to choose between not eating, not paying for medicine, or not paying for their heat and electricity (thanks to our sluggish economy), it is utterly insane to spend more on turtles than on humans in need. Second, $300,000-plus?!? I could have erected an equally effective fence for 1% of that cost! When politicians spend money (or "invest" it, to use their favorite euphemism), "spending it" is not the most accurate term to describe what they do; "blowing it" is closer to the truth.

The Michigan legislators who voted to raise the income tax gave us a remarkable insight into their morality. Michigan residents were already reeling from job cuts and other maladies that have decimated our economy. If the US economy has a cold by analogy, Michiganders have double pneumonia. So, is it morally acceptable to take sick people and bleed them even more?

After raising our taxes, our legislators patted themselves on the back for "solving" our fiscal crisis. Solve it? They didn't solve it; they simply transferred it onto the backs of the already overtaxed people and businesses in Michigan. You and I cannot solve our financial problems by making our neighbors pay our bills. If we even tried to force them to pay our bills, we could be prosecuted for fraud and extortion. Yet the Michigan legislators have given themselves the right to plunder whenever they feel like it, forcing taxpayers to pay more or risk imprisonment.

The government does provide some necessary services, so I am not opposed to all taxation. What irks me about taxes is that we spend so much in taxes and receive so little in return, thanks to an incessant series of blunders (not to mention outright fraud) committed by politicians, such as the above-mentioned turtle fence and literally millions of other extravagances.

I watched Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm on television, solemnly and repeatedly stressing that she could not cut the state budget any further without curtailing essential services. Really? Gov. Granholm is smart and articulate (and attractive, to boot), but clearly unaware of how much fat remains in the budget. Frankly, people become angry when they hear politicians make such claims and then see the state wasting so much money. Want some examples? Here are just a few of the ones I've seen:

  • The local Secretary of State office has not one but TWO big-screen TVs.
  • Whenever I enter a state or county office, I usually see employees standing around or working at a snail's pace. In the above-mentioned Secretary of State office, I spent hours (waiting!!!) listening to every word one worker said, analyzing whether it was essential or purely a waste of time for her and the dozens of people waiting to see her to renew their driver's licenses and whatnot. At least a third of her time was spent in idle chitchat. Translation? If you look at the total cost of her salary, benefits, and retirement, the beleaguered taxpayers of Michigan are paying well over $20,000 per year so that just ONE state worker can entertain herself by making small talk and gossiping. However, to grasp the true total economic cost of her motor mouth, one must also factor in the time wasted by thousands of Michiganders waiting to see her.
  • Most every time I see a road crew working, one man works while two others stand around and watch him. This happens so often that it is virtually a cultural cliché.
  • Whenever the State of Michigan purchases automobiles for employee use, those vehicles are invariably new and usually larger and more luxurious than they need to be. I bought a used car for less than one-third what a new car costs, yet it looks and runs like new. Why can't Michigan economize in the same manner? Are state workers too good to ride in used cars? This insistence upon buying only new vehicles is particularly abominable when you analyze the ethics behind it: The state, using its powers, forces its citizens (many of whom cannot afford new vehicles) to pay more in taxes so that state workers can have brand-new vehicles.

Politicians sometimes wonder why the general public harbors a deep-seated animosity toward them. I will start a list, and feel free to contribute to it by posting a comment. Our animus stems from the fact that they:

  • Spend our money as if it grew on trees.
  • Are overly and outrageously intrusive, enacting laws that have no Constitutional basis.
  • Behave like thugs, threatening us with fines and imprisonment for not obeying each and every law, even the ones that have no Constitutional basis.
  • Enact so many laws that no one could possibly know them all or abide by them all, making everyone a lawbreaker. The resultant selective enforcement gives prosecutors the ability to single out people they dislike for any reason (justified or whimsical) under the sun. This is fundamentally at odds with the rule of law and the rights and sub-rights conferred by it.
  • Behave as if they are more important than the citizens they purport to serve.
  • Generously fund their retirement benefits when ours are clearly in jeopardy. You know all that money you and your employer paid over the years in Social Security taxes? You will be lucky to receive a quarter of what was paid in, and you won't receive a penny of interest. Any banker who stole so much of your money would be imprisoned for years, but politicians conveniently give themselves a free pass to steal as much of your money as they please without fear of repercussions.
  • Are often arrogant, imperious, unresponsive, and dictatorial.

Notes:

  1. OWI charge dismissed against Keokuk County sheriff
    We're all equally subject to the law . . . yeah, sure . . . .
The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

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