My Severely Stupid Attitude Toward Taxes

I’ve got this crazy personal philosophy which both Democrats and Republicans dislike. At least, I don’t hear anyone in the political world, of any persuasion, advancing my notions. Which means I must be ignorant, misinformed, out in left field, naive, or some combination of all of the above.

Actually, I possess all of those things in heaping quantities. Yet, I will open my mouth and disgorge my stupidity. Here’s what I believe.

I believe that if you buy something, you pay for it. One of those personal responsibility things. When my parents buy a car, they don’t wait 20 years and then give me the bill.

My crazy notion is this: each generation should pay for what it buys. A “pay as you go” deal. My generation, collectively, through the people we have elected, has racked up trillions of dollars in debt. We “bought” that debt through our want-it-now greed, fiscal lack of discipline, bloated bureaucracies, multitudinous ear-marks and governmental services, and sundry stupid decisions. So we should pay for it.

We bought it, we pay for it. We broke it, we pay for it. Kind of the same thing.

Not pass it on to future generations (the “kick the can down the road” thing). Which is what everyone in Congress and the Administration is proposing with their “raise such and such amount of money over the next 20 years” thinking.

So I oppose tax cuts (on the basis of what would seem to be conservative principles, but apparently aren’t). Which means I disagree with continuing the Bush tax cuts. I agree with the President about ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. I disagree with the President about continuing the Bush tax cuts for people like me, making less than $250,000. We should (brace yourself) basically garnish the waves of my generation to pay for our extravagance. We should not give the bill to the next generation.

The only way my generation can pay for my generation’s bills is by taking it out of our hides. The economy will never grow enough to pay for our high living. Spending cuts alone will never suffice.

Democrats, of course, will object, “I didn’t vote for George Bush and his wars and unfunded drug plan, so don’t make me pay for it.” And Republicans will say, “I didn’t vote for Obama and his healthcare plan and bailouts, so don’t make me pay for that.”

But like I said–we’re in this together. “We the People” got us into this mess. So “We the People” of my generation need to cough up the money.

I know, I know. It won’t work on oh so many levels.

Economists say increasing taxes in a time of recession would seriously hurt the economy. The “fix” is to give people more money to spend–to buy more products, so companies hire more people to produce more products, giving more and more people more money to spend. I get it. “Spending” is the solution to a poor economy, according to The Smart People.

I also realize that if we extracted $15 trillion in taxes from We the People, most of Us the People would need to declare bankruptcy. Because that’s a whole insurmountably gargantuan bunch of money. So I’m a terribly naive and unrealistic idealist. I get it.

Or, by advocating tax increases, maybe I don’t get it. Proof of my don’t-get-it-ness is that nobody, absolutely nobody advocates what I’m suggesting.

But I still say: each generation should pay its own bills.

Is that so unreasonable?

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5 Comments to My Severely Stupid Attitude Toward Taxes

  1. Ed Gebert

    Steve, it’s not a bad idea, but why not start with not spending the money in the first place?

  2. Steve

    Absolutely, Ed. But that cat’s long out of the bag. We are where we are.

  3. Are you in favor of indexing those tax increases to the tax payer’s age? So if you were alive during more boom years, you pay higher rates? You can’t make each generation pay its own bills without doing something like that, after all.

    My stupid idea is that we should adopt the Joseph principal (from the Old Testament story of Joseph, advising Pharaoh to store up grain during 7 years of plenty, so the people wouldn’t starve during 7 years of famine). In good years, we should amass as much surplus as possible, so this surplus can be used to support the economy in bad years.

    I don’t know that this is actually possible in a democracy, especially one where we love to talk about throwing the bums out all the time. If we were storing up surpluses in the good times as a regular policy, there would be huge clamoring for more big projects (a moon colony?), or more taking care of the poor during the good times, or tax cuts, or any number of things. Nobody would be happy about the saving… until the famine hits.

  4. Steve

    Aaron, nice idea from Joseph’s example. But remember what happened during the 7 years of famine–Joseph basically socialized the entire country. In exchange for giving people food, he took all their money, then all livestock, then all land. When people had nothing else to give, they gave themselves as slaves to the federal government.

    I actually wrote about this back in January: http://www.stevedennie.com/musings-about-the-joseph-story/

    There IS an argument to be made for passing bills to the next generation. When Social Security started, there were people ready to retire who began collecting SS money without ever having paid into it. (I remember reading about the lady who was the first SS recipient, starting like the day after it was enacted.)

  5. I don’t think you’re far from reality at all Steve. There is no doubt that whatever economic hardship we might face today, it will be nothing compared with the economic woes in store to coming generations. If in fact, we don’t get our debt under control, there may even cease to be a United States of America. Maybe the Chinese will buy us out on a short sale.

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