published Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

All in this together

It's the season for polls. They're epidemic. ESPN has 'em. The Weather Channel has 'em. Fox and CNN? Of course. In multitudes. Polls, polls, everywhere.

Is the president up in Ohio today? He was down 2 points in North Carolina Saturday afternoon. Or at least in the suburbs of Charlotte. The polls say the challenger needs to make inroads with left-handed female lawyers without tonsils in Florida if he's going to have a chance. Excuse our interrupting your dinner, but do you give Congress good or bad marks on its handling of the color of, and the fonts on, the new Medicaid cards?

The polls overwhelm.

But one poll that came out last week was -- get this -- actually interesting. Really. And more than a little refreshing.

The Fox News poll shows a majority -- a large majority -- of people in these United States believe all Americans should pay some federal income tax. Even if it's just a few dollars a year. The survey found that 79 percent of those polled say everybody should pay something.

Remarkable. The feds will tell you that 41 percent of filers didn't pay any U.S. income taxes last year. So there must be millions of Americans who didn't send a dime to Washington, D.C., last year. But at least a lot of them think maybe they should. What's this, evidence of a national conscience? Or just recognition that we're all in this together? Or should be.

The way the feds spend money, having every worker in the country pay at least a few dollars every April 15th isn't about to balance the federal budget. But every little bit helps, and a few dollars from 41 percent of the nation's workers could add up to billions of dollar.

Which would be what the federal government spent this morning before the alarm clock went off.

The object needn't be to balance the budget by getting that 41 percent to chip in, but to get everybody involved. Responsible. To make them stakeholders in society.

Would the effort be worth it? Yes, if it cuts down on the number of Americans who don't much know or care what the federal government spends -- because it's not their money. It's only the government's. That's a good way to breed apathy as millions are wasted every year.

So what if Congress spends days debating what should be the official sausage of the U.S. of A.? So what if the Pentagon overspent its budget for socks again? So what if some federal agency bought square pegs for round holes? Or if Medicaid is expanded to include hundreds of thousands of new enrollees even if it's having trouble finding doctors for those it's already got? It's just government money. Who cares? Unfortunately, a lot of Americans don't. And won't so long as they feel it's not their money the feds are wasting.

Every morning the papers are full of ways the government misspends taxpayers' money. Suppose everybody who drew a paycheck knew he was paying for all that waste every April. Maybe more of us would wake up instead of going, "Waste and fraud? Who cares? It's inevitable."

Suppose everybody did his share. It's a good daydream to have. And it doesn't have to be a dream. Especially if 79 percent of the American people got behind a change. And a real change at that, not just a slogan.

But is Congress listening? Or do we the people have to shout? Surely that can be arranged.

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nucanuck said...

For you weepers and wailers about government largesse, mabe you should consider the following:

The golden age of Capitalism ended in the mid-1970s when oil prices soared. Since then we have borrowed, spent and cut taxes to create the illusion of growth, but that growth was all on credit. Should we ever decide to withdraw the ever increasing stimulus, a deflationary depression would immediately ensue. The amount of debt is mathematically impossible to repay without some form of default.

So should we cut back government spending? Of course we should. We now have a pretend economy supported by debt that will inevitably end badly. But...but...if we do, every dollar we cut is someone's job. Millions of jobs will be destroyed and we could call it collateral damage caused by doing the right thing. That's why no politician, R or D, will ever do more than talk about real spending cuts.

The end game will not come through a brave new political/economic reform, but almost certainly from an "unforeseeable" economic collapse. Then and only then, will we begin to build a new economic order.

And when might this collapse arrive? It would have arrived in 2001 without ZIRP. It would have arrived in 2008 without TARP. We would be in it right now without limitless QE, but the effects of the QE are getting weaker and weaker. Most Americans aren't feeling the positive effect of the QE program. Their balance sheets are getting weaker while their food and energy costs are rising.

The crisis is near and most of us sense it.

October 16, 2012 at 1:03 a.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck, I would have read your comment if it had been a teeny bit longer.

October 16, 2012 at 6:58 a.m.
conservative said...

"The survey found that 79 percent of those polled say everybody should pay something."

. "But at least a lot of them think maybe they should. What's this, evidence of a national conscience? Or just recognition that we're all in this together? Or should be."

No, many lied! The other 21% had no conscience.

October 16, 2012 at 10:13 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

It's funny how the editor and most other conservatives argue that raising taxes on the wealthy, or even taxing them at 100%, wouldn't do much for the deficit, but somehow nickel and diming those at the bottom of the economic ladder is a worthwhile approach? Pardon me for succumbing to the easy tempation to use the IDIOT word here, but when you say idiotic things, then that word is well deserved.

Those at the bottom and living on the margins would be so affected by even a modest tax rate or by doing away with the earned income tax credit (which Reagan himself praised, by the way, as being a good thing for the economy in that it reduced the poverty rate) that it would mean the difference for those people between being able to pay rent or live on the streets; the difference between food stamps or having enough to buy groceries on their own; the difference between being able to fend for themselves, even if only barely, or have to rely on welfare. The paltry amount the government would get for forcing them to pay federal income taxes on their meager, subsistent wages would not even come close to the amount the government would then have to pay out for more welfare, food-stamp needing people.

Leave the poor alone! They're already struggling. How much of their blood do you want to bleed out of them? We have been living with tax cuts for the wealthy for 12 years now. If those tax cuts created jobs, well, where are they?? We should be drowning in jobs by now! Even during this Great Recession, the wealthy are not hurting at all. In fact, they have only gotten richer. TAX THE FRIGGIN' WEALTHY. It's time to stop playing this idiotic trickle-down game. It has never worked but you idiots keep saying it does. Where's the proof? There is none. NONE.

October 16, 2012 at 5:21 p.m.
conservative said...

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. Alexis de Tocqueville

October 16, 2012 at 6:20 p.m.
conservative said...

written around 1835!!!

A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it. Alexis de Tocqueville

October 16, 2012 at 6:33 p.m.
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