Friday, April 15, 2005

How much taxation is too much?

It's April 15th. I prepared my taxes months ago but I did not mail them until today. This is because I owed more money in addition to that which was forcibly taken from my wages throughout the year. (see my post on Taxing your Survival)

The answer to this question is probably a matter of principle to some but the questions needs to be asked. How high should your taxes be before it is too much?
Socialists won't dare answer this question because they believe that the government is entitled to all of it and the burden should be on you to qualify to use it within their pre-defined social constraints.

Then there is Ayn Rand (who is basically is to weirdo objectivist libertarian types what L. Ron Hubbard is to Scientologists) said that 100% taxation isn't too much if it was all spent on defense of the nation and individual rights. So you can see, opinions vary.

I read in an interview that Bill Gates Sr. was talking about the need for more taxation and when asked about the overall cost of government he dismissively commented, "Yes, I suppose we should look for waste, but..." This is usually the response from people who see everyone's paycheck somehow belonging to the community in the form of government taxation.

Most government agencies run pretty lean. While there is waste in any organization, the real problem isn't waste, but rather asking a more fundamental question: What should be the role of government?

If you look at government budgets (and yes, I'm geeky enough to do this sort of thing) you'll find a large portion of the budget is "non-discretionary." Excuse me? Can I get your attention please? I know this is a boring post for some of you and the words are hard to understand but I'd appreciate it if you'd just hang with me for two more paragraphs...okay? Non-discretionary means that even if you wanted to, it can't be cut. Some law requires it or it is tied to the wages and benefits of government employees. So when you cut a department it usually means they have fewer pencils and their copy machines run out of paper, or they slow down the rotation of replacing their public vehicle fleet...but the size of the department remains large and intrusive and in most cases...completely unnecessary.

I'm not for cutting budgets, I'm for ending agencies. If government is going to cost a great deal then at least I want a say in what I'm paying for. Start by keeping agencies that do things that government can do well if they had the chance: Building roads and employing police. After that, it's time to dismantle agencies that do things that bureaucracies can never do well. Stop trying to counsel our children, plan families, and decide if people can clear blackberries from their land and hundreds of other areas where government is just out of line.

And I promise: If this is enacted...the few remaining agencies can have all of the office supplies they want.

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