Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Random Ramblings: Taxes, Budgets and other silliness

Now that President Bush has published his proposed budget, the finger pointing, whining, and jockeying will commence in full force. From one side of the fence, we will hear that the budget doesn't do enough to cut government spending. For the most part, these voices will be drowned out by the anguished screams of those who rely upon a subsidy or handout from the government.

Before the excrement starts to flow so heavily that any voice of reason or common sense is thoroughly obscured, let's get a few things perfectly clear.

First and foremost, no level of government has their own money. State politicians that tell you the solution to holding down state taxes is to receive more 'federal' money, do not tell you that 'federal' money is collected as taxes and fees from you (and others). Anyone who thinks that the Fed has some secret source of non-tax dollars or that Fed officials can simple print more money to cover expenses really does need to go back to school and pay attention this time.

It is not the government's money: It is your money. It was collected from you via taxes and if the government spends too much, the results are either a budget shortfall or higher taxes. Let's all say this together: "It is our money!"

Regardless of how many pages of budget proposals presented by the President, the simple fact is that only Congress can enact the laws needed to enact the budget. In other words, all spending is done with the approval of Congress. All of the politicians talking about government waste or whining about cuts to welfare programs are the very same folks who vote the laws in that enact the budget.

Almost all cuts proposed in a government budget are not cuts in actual spending but are simply increases that ar not as large as someone wants. Instead of a 10% increase in funding for Public Broadcasting, the budget calls for a 5% increase: this is what the politicians call a spending cut.

Politicians love to come across as great supporters of various programs such as "No Child Left Behind". They think that supporting an education program will win them the votes of parents with kids stuck in public schools. However, these same cowards know that being on the record as having supported a tax increase is not good for job security, so they pass 'unfunded mandates'. These are Federal laws mandating certain expenditures but without any Federal funding. In other words, the fed politicians pass the bill, tell you how wonderful they are and dump the problem of how to pay for the bill to the next lower level of government, the state. Not to be outdone by their peers at the Fed level, the state politicians work just as hard to look pretty and pass the dirty work on to the local governments.

Okay, now that we have a few of the basics defined, let Budget Battle 2005 begin. Just keep saying to yourself and to your elected officials: "It is our money!"


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