OK, The time has come to talk about taxes and Government spending.
So here goes. If we are to have an intelligent discussion, we need to settle a couple of issues and define some terms.
Government does NOT have any money of its own.
If Government has any money, they took it from somebody else, somebody that worked for it. Government has no money of it's own.
Yes I can hear half of you screaming: "The Feds can print money! They don't have to take if from anybody." And that is true, technically, but not in reality. When the government prints money, everybody else's money is worth less. The inflation you see now, is the result of the Government printing money. They didn't take the actual money from us, but they took the value from us. So now our money is worth less. It works out to be the same thing. Government has no money of its own. In every case Government MUST take the money (or the value) from taxpayers.
Taxes aren't voluntary!
Taxes are backed up by Government force. If you don't pay your taxes, the Government will
forfeit your income,
take your house,
seize all your other valuables,
and put you in jail!
They will take everything you have including your freedom, to make you pay your taxes.
If you escape from the jail, they will track you down with armed guards and dogs.
That is, and always has been the threat of government: Do what we say, or we will:
take everything you own
and lock you up, for the rest of your life, if needed.
All government spending must be evaluated in light of the force necessary to collect taxes.
Just because Government CAN take money from tax payers doesn't mean it is right to do so, or that it should. If there are only 2 people in the whole world, you and your neighbor, think of what circumstances would entitle you to take his property? Just adding more neighbors and a majority vote, doesn't change your entitlement to take your neighbors property.
Government is just a bunch of people voting on what they want to do. You can't vote to give yourself rights to other peoples property. Voting can you give you the power, the ability, based on brute force, to take your neighbors property, but it doesn't give you the moral right. You are still wrong to take property, or money, that you are not entitled to take.
When Government takes money they are
not entitled to take, it is just "legal" theft.
Are we ever justified in using Government force to collect taxes? Yes! But only taxes that are for the Common Good. These taxes are approved by the voters and pay for things that benefit everybody. Roads and bridges, airports and highways.
National defense and police protection. Everybody benefits from these things and they are paid for by taxes that everybody pays.
To receive these benefits without paying your fair share of taxes would be a form of theft. You would be receiving the benefits paid for by others. Society is entitled to use force to prevent theft. Hence using Government force to collect legitimate taxes is moral and proper.
Remember, taxes for the Common Good must meet all of the following criteria:
The taxpayers have agreed to these programs through their vote.
Everybody pays the taxes.
Everybody receives the benefit.
Government spending and taxes that meet all 3 of these criteria can't be criticized. They are good, legitimate taxes.
What about Government spending that just takes tax payer money and gives it to somebody else?
This is what we call Robin Hood Politics. These taxes take money from those that have earned it and give it to somebody that has not earned it. It is also called wealth redistribution. All industrialized countries do this, including our country. Examples are:
Food Stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Housing Assistance, Child Care Assistance, Earned Income Tax Credit, Obama Phones, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, etc.
These programs aim to take from the rich and give to the poor. It's not surprising when poor people vote for politicians that promise to give them other peoples money!
Aren't these wealth redistribution programs a necessary part of the Safety Net? Proponents of such programs claim they are necessary to provide a Safety Net to protect all of us. Because this Safety Net benefits everybody, they claim it is part of the Common Good.
Most of us would agree that some Safety Net should exist. We don't want children dying in the streets. We don't want our senior citizens to starve because they can't buy food. We don't want children of unemployed parents to beg for food. These types of things do happen in many other countries. For example, about 10 unclaimed, unidentified bodies are found daily in Delhi, most dead from starvation, according to a paper Mander and Jacob published in 2010. Many African nations are even worse, and a recent United Nations report written by John Holmes estimates 25,000 people starve to death daily (yes daily!), including 10,000 children. They claim 854 million people worldwide are undernourished, IE don't have enough food. America is different. America will always have a Safety Net.
The only question is, where does the Safety Net end? Give-Away programs that incentivize people to stay home and collect benefits are not part of the Safety Net. They are the problem. In some cases, working people can make more money by quitting their job, staying home and collecting welfare. For example, some workers have health insurance with a $500 or $1,000 deductible. These working people have health insurance, but because the deductible is so high they can't afford to see a doctor. But if they quit their job, the next day they can get Medicaid with $0 deductible. It is not unheard of for people with a serious medical issue to quit their job to qualify for Medicaid.
We need to preserve the Safety Net. But at the same time we must scrutinize every element of every program and ensure it is not giving people a reason to quit their job and go on the dole.
Therefore All Government spending
must meet a double test:
1) Are we justified in using Government force to fund this program? If we aren't morally justified in sending people to jail, to fund the program, it does not deserve tax money.
2) If this program is part of the Safety Net, is it still performing an essential service for deserving people? Or is it now enabling people to shirk their duty? If it is enabling people, it must be repealed or reformed.
How does this shake out in real life?
Some people want a free Obama phone. Are we justified in sending other people to jail, and taking everything they have, so these people can have a free phone? Is this an essential part of the Safety Net? The answer is no and no, and we need to quit paying for Obama phones with taxes.
People don't want America to be bombed by foreign enemies. Should we take peoples freedom away, if necessary, to collect the taxes to pay for our military defense? Yes! In deed we should. Same for police protection.
A Grant for the Arts would beautify the city and put many artists to work. Should we use Government force to pay for it? No. Then perhaps a charitable foundation could be found to fund the Arts Grant.
Some people want the Government to pay for Day Care for their kids, while they go to work. Are we morally justified in taking other peoples freedom to pay for their Day Care? No, we are not. Perhaps these people can consider the institution of marriage, which would allow one spouse to work, while the other spouse stays home to take care of the kids. Maybe even add in some old fashioned Entrepreneurism, and the stay at home spouse can start a little in home Day Care to make some decent money since they're already staying home to care for their own kids! (I know several people that have done this, quite successfully.)
If people don't have food, should we use Government force to make taxpayers pay for their food? And are Food Stamps still doing what Congress initially intended? Hmmm, tough questions. Are these people unable to work due to severe disability? Then yes, Government tax money is justified. Are these people able to go to work and earn their own money? If so, then let them get a job. Are they employed full time and still unable to feed their family? Then perhaps Food Stamps should be reformed to require employment for the able bodied and include means testing.
Do people with no insurance deserve Medicaid? Perhaps some do, but fairness says we can't use force to take money from working people to pay for health care for nonworking people that is better than the health care the workers get. The system needs to be reformed so that workers health insurance is at least as good as Medicaid, or better. And employment should be required for all able bodied people before they receive Medicaid. And if the workers that pay for the Medicaid are required to pass urine drug tests, it's reasonable to make the same requirement of Medicaid recipients.
ETC, ETC, ETC.
Our only hope of getting Government spending under control is to insist that our elected representatives accept and act on these principles.
Taxes only for the Common Good.
A Safety Net is not a way of life.