Monday, October 1, 2012

Choice, Transparency, and Progress

I recently had a debate with my 16 year old nephew about taxes and the government. He is under the assumption that I should pay more in taxes even though he does not know what I earn or how much I give to charities. That is right, my nephew, who has yet to pay one penny in taxes, is lecturing me! It is disappointing he has already made so many assumptions about taxes and other American citizens without having any facts or information. What’s worse, he really did not grasp any economic philosophies where higher taxes could result in fewer jobs or less consumer spending. So I tried to explain my position on taxes from another angle.

I explained to him that I would have fewer issues with paying taxes if I had a choice about how my tax dollars were spent. After all, people choose to give money to charities because they research them and in most cases charities explain where the money is going. This brings me to my second point; the spending of our tax money should be 100% transparent. I should not only be able to select where my tax money goes, but I should be able to verify that the money is indeed going to the cause of my choice. And we should be able to see how efficiently our tax dollars are being spent. In other words, what percentage of our taxpayer dollars actually make it to the person, program, or group we wish to fund. Finally, taxpayers should be able to outline and demand what goal or progress they would like the funding to accomplish. If the destination of the tax money does not hit prescribed goals, then taxpayers can opt to send their hard earned dollars to another cause the next year.

Unfortunately, any attempts by the government to be transparent with taxpayer dollars usually end up being deceitful, untrustworthy, or laced with misinformation. Case in point the Recovery Act – remember that 863 billion dollar stimulus package. The government site for the stimulus distorted facts and made up statistics not maintained by the Labor Department such as jobs saved. And let’s not forget the Obama administration’s misguided green program which is squandering taxpayer money on companies like Solyndra.

It would be nice to see our taxpayer money go to a family in our neighborhood whose adults are working two jobs each but struggling to make ends meet. And it would be even better to see at least 90% of our tax dollars make it to the family who used the extra help to get a better education and eventually a better paying job that got the family off welfare. It is a nice dream, but it is not going to happen.

Americans are the most caring and giving individuals in the world. When someone is struggling neighbors and friends want to help. For this reason, if Americans can chose and see where their money goes, they are more likely to be more charitable with their taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, politicians like to paint a deceitful picture about the use of taxpayer money. When Obama signed ObamaCare into law he told several untruthful stories about families that would benefit from the legislation.

The left claims they are progressive because they want money to go to the poor and people in need. However, progress does not stop at that point. The people collecting welfare should show they too are progressing with the money they receive. People should not be on welfare their entire lives! Individual responsibility and accountability is a major part of progress. And if progress is not being made, then taxpayers should have the opportunity to stop funding the individual, program, group, company, or organization.


  1. You know the old saying, "If you're not a Liberal at 18 you have no heart, if you're not a Conservative at 25 you have no brain" Give him time, he'll grow a brain. I've always said "You're a Democrat until someone sticks you with the bill"

  2. Jim, that sounds about right.

  3. It’s hard to mix family and politics, this I know from experience. If it were me, I would ask my nephew a few basic philosophical questions. If he and his friends all go out for pizza one night and eat the same amount, how should they divide the bill? Should everyone pay the same amount, or should some kids pay more because they bothered to get an after-school job when the others did not? If you all decide to chip in for one kid because he has problems at home and has no money, should this be a voluntary choice or does your disadvantaged friend have a right to demand it?

    The problem with the youth and with liberals (both are immature), is that they don’t know how to evaluate philosophical questions unless they can personally relate to such questions because it affects THEM. Therefore, everything needs to be put in a context that they can understand before they give a reasonably intelligent answer.

    Utimately I would relate these philosophical questions to the question of taxation. What is the purpose of taxation? Is it to fund the necessary functions of gov’t as prescribed under the Constitution, or is it marketing tool for politicians to use any way they please?

    It’s best to always establish the philosophical points before having a debate.

  4. I have had dozens of conversations with my nephew over history and spending - he has been brain washed by his liberal folks and school system. He may come around once he starts to live in the real world.