Friday, March 6, 2009

Taxes and Spending and Bailouts, a Shakey Opinion

Recently, on Facebook, there was s minor discussion of bailouts between a couple of Facebook(ers,ites,ists,what?) It is not necessary to elaborate on that discussion, it's not really relevant to what I might be planning to say (at this point, I'm not really sure).

In keeping with my belief that, "History is a matter of opinion", I'll simply enclose that Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr. said something like, "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization". How could anyone refute that?

It seems that people often do. In 1960, the man whom I voted against, but won anyway, promised to get the tax cut. And he did! And the country thrived, and went to the moon as a result of that man's efforts, although he'd been taken away from us almost six years earlier.

Later by about twenty years, another man whom I voted against (but won anyway), proposed cutting taxes to spur the economy, and his explanation of the reasoning caused his opponent (who was later the vice president, and later president for a while) to call it "Voodoo Economics". In that same year, I heard from a source from which I expected it not at all, "They really need to get the taxes up to a reasonable level, and start trying to pull this country out of this hole". The prominent businessman, whom I'd suspected was one of those "trickle down" supporters had said that to my surprise.

The previous administration supported giving 700 billion dollars to the financial industry to get the economy moving again. As it turned out, all that money has not been released yet, but that which has, mostly has gone to supporting those financial institutions, with little regard or benefit to the economy.

The current administration wants to use a similar amount for creating jobs and infrastructure maintenance, if not improvements. I would prefer that we not have to spend our taxpayer money for either, but I certainly think that if government money (and it's government money once it has left our hands) must be spent, then I'd certainly be more inclined to support the latter! It would be spending with a purpose.

Offering tax cuts in a way that mostly benefits the taxpayers that benefit most from the economy anyway, and borrowing money to sustain both the tax cuts and a "War for the hell of it", does not seem like sound stewardship to me.

When that second guy, back in 1981, initiated his 'voodoo economics' and lowered the federal income tax, he left the door open for a tremendous increase in state and local taxes, so that, in the end, no one from my own economic bracket really benefited from the tax cut, and state and local government increased incrementally, along with the federal government, in spite of the "cuts". Are any of us paying less (federal, state and local tax combined) than we were back in 1980?

Now that "taxpayer bailouts" seems to be a keyword, I'm wondering, if taxpayer money goes to subsidize the mortgages of people who were caught up in the 'voodoo economics' of speculative lending, can it be that far removed from taxpayers subsidizing the local governments' practice of offering tax abatements to attract business and developments to their communities?

It's all so complicated to my weary brain, but I still think that I'll have to agree with Justice Holmes, that "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization". How much civilization can we afford to do without?

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