We Could Use a Bit More Government Help, Please!

April 17, 2014

We Could Use a Bit More Government Help, Please!

I’m not a proponent of Marxism, socialism, or very big government. I acknowledge that our governments (local, state, and federal) are in great need of overhaul. There is waste and inefficiency, and there are many “pork barrel” projects resulting from “earmarks” which have been forced into our excessive budgets due to the inefficiencies of our current political system. We see evidence of waste all around us on a daily basis.

However, that reality does not get solved by simply squeezing down taxes of all sorts further and further, and starving government which has significant entitlements to limit opportunities to cut expenses, resulting in cuts starving critical social needs.

After coming to grips with the growing inequality of our nation across the last 30 years of neoliberal economic domination, I have started to give larger tips to coffee baristas, to parking attendants and others who serve me, realizing more than before, that these helpful members of our community are living with barely enough or not enough, and their wages are not increasing. We should all pitch in whenever we can in that way to ease the burden of these hard working people.

Similarly, I recently learned that there is a box on the tax return which invites us to volunteer extra tax payments which will go directly to pay down the federal debt. I learned that the amounts which have been voluntarily given in recent years have ranged for about $3 million to about $12 million at the peak in 2012, when there was peak noise about the federal debt.

Good for those citizens who ticked the box and wrote a bigger check. I did not, and it would appear that perhaps Warren Buffet did not either, as had he done so, his likely contribution would have been a great deal more than the peak annual total of $12 million.

Our total federal government debt is around $17 trillion, so these voluntary contributions are not going to reduce it by even a fraction of 1 percent. Neither will voluntary additional tipping to low wage workers significantly alleviate their financial distress.

There is an understandable reluctance on the part of citizens to try to pitch in to fix things, if others are not joining them in doing so. These are good examples of the value of collectivism, and policies voted in by elected legislatures. Once that is done, most of us feel it’s fair. For example, I would be willing to surrender some of my social security benefits, my home mortgage deduction, some of my medicare benefits, if we could only agree that we are all going to join in, in some rational way, so that we can then help to solve some of the problems of our nation. For example, I’d be delighted to do this if we could use half the savings to reduce government debt and the other half to improve the lot of the underprivileged–as with improved access to good schools, training programs, and also infrastructure–which helps everyone.

Without government, with only the market system to deal with these issues, and with no willingness to additionally tax, even for those making more than $1 million per year, the outlook is dismal.

I submit that we need a lot less government in many areas and a bit more in others. Net net, I am convinced we could significantly reduce the cost of governments, but we need to rebalance what they are doing.

The political feasibility of such as this is another thing altogether. Clearly, entitlements such as social security and medicare benefit the older of us, and the older have the time and the money to vote, to make noise, and to be active politically. We need government leadership to show our older population a way to just tighten our belts a little, spread over time, such as to enable our children and grandchildren to have a sustainable future.

I welcome your comments

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