I watched in utter amazement last Friday as the President of the United States of America had a hold-my-breath, stomp-my-feet, hissy fit on national tv because mean old John Boehner wouldn't go along with the scheme to rip us off for even more taxes. All the cliches in this matter are true but the best one that sums up the issue is "It's the spending stupid." We don't need any further "revenue enhancements" (don't you just love D.C. euphemisms?) which are a drop in the bucket compared to the run-away spending our profligate national government has been indulging in for the last decade. Yes, it started with President Bush but his growth in spending was truly amateurish compared to that of the current one-term-wonder, Barack H. Obama. To get this country back in black we have to cut spending and cut it to the bone.
As I marveled at Obama's macabre theatre of the absurd, it dawned on me that about a week ago Obama called on the nation to rally together and make a "shared sacrifice" to confront this crisis. According to an AFP story carried on Breitbart, the President said,
Simply put, it will take a balanced approach, shared sacrifice, and a willingness to make unpopular choices on all our parts.
In that regard I agree with President Obama completely. It is indeed time for shared sacrifice. Where I suspect we differ is on the issue of who should now be doing the sacrificing.
To quote an old Rush Limbaugh saw, "It's time the poor started paying their fair share!" The problem is not that the so-called "rich" pay too little. It's that the "poor" pay far too little and receive far too much. But let's back away from the tired old Marxist tactic of pitting economic classes against one another. "Rich" or "poor"? What do these labels even mean in today's American society? We have the richest poor in the world. I recall vivividly Dinesh D'Souza's story about what an Indian friend told him when asked why he wanted so badly to come to America. He replied:
I really want to move to a country where the poor people are fat.
Meanwhile the rich aren't even the rich. With each new day we find "rich" being defined down to where about any husband and wife team of school teachers are deemed "the rich" by the Obama regime. So let's abandon those words in favor of more meaningful terms, such as "producers" and "users." I defince producers as any who, through their wit, skill, enterprise and industry are employed or self-employed in the private sector and contributing to our gross domestic product. These people include the laborers and the thinkers, the professionals, the artisans and the industrialists; the ones who work for what they get and all too ofter are the ones taxed to pay for what those who don't produce get through the largess of our very generous government. On the other end of the spectrum are the "users." As the name implies these people do not produce, but use that which the producers produce. The users live off that taken from the producers. There are some necessary users, such as police, fire and military, and it is not the intent of this article to denegrate their necessary service. I focus instead on the true users: those on the public dole, the lazy, the unmotivated, the incompetent, the under-achievers. They actually enjoy a life-style that would be the envy of the average European middle class. The Heritage Foundation recently published some eye-opening statistics and charts on this very subject, noting:
. . . According to the government’s own survey data, in 2005, the average household defined as poor by the government lived in a house or apartment equipped with air conditioning and cable TV. The family had a car (a third of the poor have two or more cars). For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player, and a VCR. . . .
If there were children in the home (especially boys), the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a microwave, refrigerator, and an oven and stove. Other household conveniences included a washer and dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. . . .
For far too long the producers have been forced to give too much to the users in terms of taxes and in other ways, ($16 trillion) but let's focus on taxes so we don't stretch this note to unnecessary length. We are told by the merchants of poverty, the press and the left, that we are selfish and undertaxed and we should be thankful for that. My experience is that Americans in general are not a seflish people and happily give to those truly in need; a hand-up in hard times. And no one begrudges a penny spent on those few who, because of age, or disability, truly cannot work. But we are certainly not undertaxed.
The Tax Foundation recently published a work by Scott Hodge showing of all the industrialized countries the producers in the United States are the most taxed in the world. Hodge, citing figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), printed a table which he explained as follows:
The first column shows that the top 10 percent of households in the U.S. pays 45.1 percent of all income taxes (both personal income and payroll taxes combined) in the country. Italy is the only other country in which the top 10 percent of households pays more than 40 percent of the income tax burden (42.2%). Meanwhile, the average tax burden for the top decile of households in OECD countries is 31.6 percent.
In sum, the top 10% of American producers are taxed at the highest level in the world, in order to pay for some user's Playstation (R).
Yes, it is time, far past time, for some "shared sacrifice." It's time for the users to sacrifice some of their goodies that the rest of has been paying for since LBJ's unfortunate rise to power. I can hear the left howl now. "You can't take food out of the mouths of babies!" True, and I don't want to. Instead, let's just take away their cell phones.
In January 2010 The Heritage Foundation shined some light on how you producers are giving away free phones and hours to the users, to the tune of a couple of billion dollars.
. . . In 2008, the fund that foots the bill for this program contributed $819 million to subsidize low-income telephone services. The fund is projected to grow to over $1 billion this year. That’s $1 billion of over $800 billion the United States will spend on welfare in 2010. . . .
I realize a mere couple of billion is a drop in the bucket of champaign the users enjoy. But the journey of a trillion dollars begins with but a single greenback. Barack? Harry? Nancy? You sure there's nothing we can cut??
Randall Mead is a simple, country lawyer, scratching out a living in the belly of the beast, the capital of Madiganistan.