Tag Archives: mccain

A Call for Truth in Political Labeling

Inspiration for this post comes from Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain and Rush Limbaugh, talk show host.  Back in March of 2009, during an interview on “Larry King Live” in response to a question, Meghan McCain proudly announced that she was a “progressive Republican”.  Today a caller to Rush’s show wanted to know why he insisted on using the word liberal instead of progressive.  Rush’s answer was basically because the term liberal in recent years has picked up a negative image while progressive still carries the positive image of being forward looking and modern, and he uses liberal because he likes to tweak Democrats.

I am a fan of labels, particularly in the political arena.  The use of a truthful and accurate label to describe someone’s political philosophy is an efficient way to identify one’s approach to the issues that affect our lives.  However, in modern times, the use of labels has fallen into disfavor and using one leaves one open to the accusation of “name calling”.  In addition to that, a major problem with labels is that adherents to an unpopular political philosophy will attempt to hide their true beliefs by applying a misleading label to themselves.  Conversely, they will adopt a popular label in order to hide their true political philosophy. For example, virtually every Republican politician today, from Mark Kirk to John McCain to John Boehner refer to themselves as “conservative”.

Democrats, who for the most part, support a socialist agenda, insist on calling themselves “progressives”.  The result is that the average voter has a difficult time distinguishing a Republican from a RINO or a liberal Democrat from a socialist.  This confusion of labels is what causes many Americans to throw up their hands and declare “a pox on both your houses”, you’re all the same; which brings us to the question, what is the difference between a socialist, a progressive, a Republican and a conservative?

To understand these differences properly we have to look at the history of the terms.  Socialism, as an organized political philosophy began in the mid-nineteenth century, primarily from the teachings of Karl Marx in Germany. Its stated ideals of social and economic equality, a popular democracy and its opposition to the inequities of some segments of capitalism quickly won favor with many Americans.  However, Americans are different from Europeans so these socialists doctrines had to be Americanized. During the last decades of the nineteenth century, the American version of socialism adopted the label, “progressive”.

Political leaders of that era, which ended in the Great Depression, used many of the same tactics used today by the Democratic Party.  One that stands out is the demonization of capitalism. Leading capitalists were labeled “robber barons” and their financial empires were broken up or destroyed amid the cheers of the general public. Theodore Roosevelt became one of America’s most popular progressive leaders, earning the nickname of “Trust Buster” for his success in breaking up some of the largest capitalists institutions of his day.

The twentieth century dawned with progressivism being the most popular political philosophy in America.  The Presidential Election of 1912 featured four progressives vying for the office, representing four different political parties.  William Howard Taft, the incumbent ran as a progressive Republican, Woodrow Wilson as a progressive Democrat, Eugene Debs ran as a Socialist and Theodore Roosevelt ran on the new Progressive Party ticket.  Roosevelt and Taft split the Republican vote giving the election to Wilson.

The 1912 election was the beginning of the end for Constitutional government in America.  No matter who won the election the American people would have elected a progressive President. The one thing all four candidates had in common was the advocacy of a progressive income tax designed to facilitate a more equitable redistribution of the nation‘s wealth. A second similarity of the 1912 candidates was the belief in government’s ability to manage and eventually solve all of the country’s problems, if only its institutions were made more “democratic“.  In 1913 two progressive amendments were added to the Constitution, the Sixteenth, establishing a progressive income tax and the Seventeenth, requiring the popular election of Senators.

Socialism in its Americanized version, progressivism, was instrumental in bringing about the Great Depression.  America was slower than Europe in emerging from the Depression because of the twelve plus year reign of the Democrat Saint of Progressives, Franklin Roosevelt. Today, while the progressives make up the base of the Democrat Party, progressivism also exercises a strong influence on the Republican Party.

Progressive Republicans label themselves as “moderates” or sometimes as “fiscal conservatives”. It pains me to point this out, but many of those in the popular tea party movement would be more properly classified as “progressive conservatives”.  If that seems on the surface to be oxymoronic, let me clarify the term. Many self-identified conservatives are perfectly content with unconstitutional spending by the federal government as long as it is limited to things they perceive as being of personal benefit to them.  Education, infrastructure, and health care for example. They are content with unconstitutional taxation as long as it is not too oppressive to them personally. The same can be said of government regulation of businesses.  Unconstitutional regulations are considered Okay by many conservatives as long as they perceive it to be in their personal best interest.

It is difficult to define true conservatism today because there are so few examples to point to. To understand it properly we again have to go back in history to the first conservatives. During the early-post revolutionary period, the conservatives were known as anti-federalists.  After 1891 and the ratification of the Bill of Rights conservatives were popularly known as republicans.  The identifying characteristics were defense of the Constitution, rule of law, intolerance for government corruption, love of liberty and the sanctity of private property. Conservatism prevailed in America until the progressive era.  The last bulwark of conservatism was lost when the Supreme Court was successfully politicized by President Roosevelt in the mid-nineteen-thirties.

Since that time, conservatives have been in the minority, as they are today. A recent Gallop poll is being touted as evidence that conservatives are the largest voting block in America today.  Forty percent of those polled identified themselves as conservative, thirty-six percent as moderate and only twenty percent as liberal.  Before you break out the Champagne, consider the fact that most of those who identified themselves as conservatives were simply expressing their dissatisfaction with the excessive progressive policies of the Obama Administration not an ideologically understood preference for true conservative principles.

No one can rightfully claim the label of “conservative” who tolerates and often encourages the wanton violation of the Constitution by their elected officials whether they considerer themselves as fiscal conservatives, social conservatives or blue dog Democrats. When I hear self-proclaimed conservatives call for bipartisan federal solutions to things like health care, education, alternative energy and so forth, I fear for my country.

Progressivism is the American version of socialism.  Socialism and our Constitution are mutually exclusive. Constitution based conservatism cannot compromise with progressivism. It must defeat it or perish.  The call for bipartisanship is nothing more than a call for surrender, one battle at a time and can only lead to despotism. True conservatives do not want “smaller government”; they want a constitutionally limited government.  They do not want “lower taxes”; they want constitutionally authorized taxation only. They do not want a “less intrusive government”; they want the federal government out of their personal lives, period.

Take the
Constitution Refresher Course
For Elected Officials, Candidates, and Citizens

Advertisements

The McCain-Obama Non-Debate

I watched the first hour of Tuesday night’s debate on TV and listened to the last half hour in my car.  In doing so, I missed the visual of the only three-seconds of “straight talk” in the entire debate.  That was when the moderator complained to someone who had evidently gotten between him and the teleprompter, “you’re blocking my script”.  Since I was listening and not watching, I don’t know who he was talking to, but I thought it was a good metaphor for the whole performance.

Few things in life are more boring than watching two politicians who have perfected the skill of talking for hours without expressing a single original thought, while attempting to mislead their listeners into believing they have been enlightened.  Several prominent words and phrases which I call “thought stoppers” were used during the debate.  These are words intended to relieve the listener of the burden of having to think about the facts underlying them and are usually a sure sign of deception.

The two that stand out most for me in terms of their irritability factor are “regulation”, a favorite of Obama, and “bipartisan”, a favorite of McCain.  These are only slightly less irritating than “eight years of failed Bush policies”, “let me be clear”, “my friends”, and “reaching across the aisle”.

Obama’s reference to McCain’s support of deregulation is outright subterfuge.  Democrats are trying frantically to blame Republicans for the crash in the housing market that eventually led to a global economic meltdown in order to deflect scrutiny of their own actions in the matter.  One way of doing this is to convince the American people that the economic crisis we are currently experiencing is due to deregulation of the financial markets.  This approach works well with the Democratic agenda and hopefully, in their view, keep voters from understanding the truth.

In terms of political philosophy, Democrats are always in favor of more regulations and Republicans are always in favor of less.  Neither approach would have prevented the financial collapse because the problem was not brought about by either too much or too little regulation.  That does not mean that regulations are not important, just that they are not relevant to the problem at hand.

A degree of regulations is both necessary and constitutional.  However, the courts and Congress have used the regulatory powers of Congress in ways that were never intended by the Constitution.  Government regulations have been used by power hungry politicians to expand the control of government over individuals, businesses and states since the founding of our nation.  Beginning with the Federalist Party of Adams and Hamilton and Continuing to the Democratic Party of Pelosi, Reid and Obama, there has been a continuous increase in the ability of government to regulate the economic prosperity of the country and the behavior of its citizens.

The constitutional basis offered by both Congress and the courts for this proliferation of government power and the corresponding decline in individual liberty is the “commerce clause” of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which grants to Congress the power…“to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Since the introduction of the New Deal by Roosevelt, the application of the Commerce Clause has bee expanded to include any and all business activity.  Its meaning has also been changed by liberal politicians to include a congressional authority to manage as well as regulate.  Our current economic difficulties are not caused by over-regulation or under-regulation, but rather, by the attempts by Congress to manage the housing and financial markets to further a socialist agenda and the corruption that always follows in the wake of socialist actions.

The very nature of business makes the government intrinsically unqualified for its management.  It is this reality that causes the ultimate failure of all socialist economic systems.  The almost universal desire for power by most politicians makes them blind to this fact.  Consequently, we now find ourselves faced with the illogical political decision that the only solution for the financial crisis we find ourselves in is to expand the management authority of government.

The myth of government’s ability to manage the economy has been cultivated by the liberal, socialist movement to the point that we are on the verge of turning over to government the management of our energy needs, healthcare, education, and automobile manufacturing.  There is no reason to believe the results will be any different for these than it has been for the housing markets.

If we are to prevent the same fate befalling America that has befallen other socialist and communist nations, we need major reform of Congress and a return to constitutional government.  This will not be an easy task.  As Judge Robert Bork observed in a paper titled “The Scope of Congress’s Power to Regulate Commerce”;

“There is no possibility, today, of adhering completely to the original constitutional design. Such a daring plan would require overturning the New Deal, the Great Society, and almost all of the vast network of federal legislation and regulation put in place in the last two-thirds of the twentieth century. It appears that the American people would be overwhelmingly against such a change and no court would attempt to force it upon them.”

The word commerce, as defined by Webster and used by the founders referred only to the transporting, buying and selling of goods.  It certainly did not extend to the manufacturing or product design and marketing of manufactured items.  Furthermore, the power to regulate only applied to goods actually sold or intended for sale in interstate commerce.  It did not apply to goods or commercial activity that “might” find its way into interstate commerce.

Jon Roland of the Constitution Society in his treatise “Original Understanding of the Commerce Clause” wrote:

“As originally understood, interstate “commerce” did not include primary production, such as farming, hunting, fishing, or mining. It did not include services, securities, or communication. Nor did it include manufacturing, transport, retail sales, possession, use, or disposal of anything. It did not include anything that might have a “substantial effect” on commerce, or the operations of parties not directly related to the actual transfers of ownership and possession.”

Much has been written and said about the proper functions of government in regulating commerce.  None has been more concise than the principle expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his first Inaugural Address of 1801.  In his definition of good government, he listed a government,

“…which shall restrain men from injuring one another, [but] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”

The only legitimate regulation of commerce is that which is designed to protect the public from the avarice of greedy and unscrupulous men or from the intentional sale of hazardous products.

We got where we are today through the deliberate incrementalism of the socialist movement in America over the past century.  If we are to survive as a free nation, we must incrementally roll back the progress of socialism in our economy and in our society.  The best place to start is by the reform of Congress which has become the focal point of the socialist movement.  This cannot happen until voters break themselves of the custom of returning the same representatives to Congress each election, for selfish and unpatriotic reasons.

In my next post, I will share some thoughts on bi-partisanship.


Sarah Palin on the Bush Doctrine

One significant side effect of the McCain-Palin ticket is that the response to it spotlights the media bias in a way that can only be denied by the most adamant cool aid drinkers and party hacks.  Examples are too numerous to cover adequately in this space.  However, a good example is the media response to Charlie Gibson’s ABC interview with Governor Palin on Thursday Night.

The part of the interview that seemed to get the most attention on Friday was the part dealing with the Bush Doctrine.

GIBSON: “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?”

GOVERNOR PALIN:  “In what respect, Charlie?”

GIBSON:  “Well, what do you interpret it to be?”

PALIN:  “His world view?”

GIBSON:  “No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated in September 2002, before the Iraq war“.

PALIN: “I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made, and with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.”

GIBSON:  “The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?”

PALIN: “Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country.”

This exchange was used by commentators, pundits, bloggers, and even many news accounts to be proof that Palin did not have the foreign policy experience to qualify her for the position of Vice President.  James Fallows writing in the Atlantic Online began his article this way.

“It is embarrassing to have to spell this out, but for the record let me explain why Gov. Palin’s answer to the “Bush Doctrine” question — the only part of the recent interview I have yet seen over here in China — implies a disqualifying lack of preparation for the job.”

The Associated Press had this to say;

“….[Governor Palin]  Appeared unsure of the Bush doctrine — essentially that the United States must help spread democracy to stop terrorism and that the nation will act pre-emptively to stop potential foes.”

You will notice there are substantial differences between Gibson’s understanding of the Bush Doctrine and the AP’s.  On Friday’s Hannity and Colmes TV show, Alan Colmes also used this exchange between Gibson and Palin as proof of Palin’s lack of experience in foreign policy.

I have e-mailed both Gibson and Colmes and requested they send me a copy of the Bush Doctrine so I could properly understand just what the flap is about.

When I type, for example, the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, or The Declaration of Independence into a search engine I get a number of links to specific documents with those titles.  However, when I type “Bush Doctrine” into a search engine, I get pages of links to news articles, opinion pieces, and blogs related to the Bush Doctrine, but no links to a copy of it.

The reason no search engine can link to a copy of the Bush Doctrine is because none exists.  The term is a media expression used to refer to any one of a number of Bush policies regarding the war on terror.  Had I been asked about the Bush Doctrine, I would have immediately thought of the policy stated by Bush that State sponsors of terrorism would be held accountable in the same manner as the terrorists themselves.

My version, Gibson’s version and the AP version all refer to different Bush policies that have at various times been labeled the “Bush Doctrine”.  All total, there are about five such policies that are given that label.  Governor Palin’s question quoted above, “his world view?” is a pretty good summary of just what the Bush Doctrine is.

The fact that so many news outlets and commentators jumped on this exchange to undermine Sarah Palin”s qualifications to assume the role of Commander In Chief, if need be, is just one more example of the panic in the Democratic Party and their left wing media propaganda arm caused by McCain’s choice of her as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Copy and e-mail this link to a friend:  https://illinoisconservative.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/sarah-palin-on-the-bush-doctrine/


Democrats Nominate Most Hard-Core Socialist in Seventy-Six Years

On Wednesday, the Democratic Party officially nominated its second hard-core socialist candidate for President in history.   The hope is that he will be able to finish the work began by Franklin D. Roosevelt some seventy-five years ago.  Like Roosevelt, Obama supporters bristle at the label of “socialist”.  This in spite of the fact that the policies he has outlined during his primary campaign have been virtually 100% socialistic.

While America has never had a declared socialist as President, two have stood out for their socialist policies: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.  Roosevelt put socialism on a firm footing in American politics, with the “New Deal”, after steam rolling the Supreme Court. Later, Johnson ratcheted it up a few notches with his so-called “Great Society” programs.

Roosevelt was hampered somewhat in his efforts by the strong feelings of patriotism and nationalism prevalent in the American people as a result of the World War Two effort.  Much of that patriotic and nationalist spirit has been dissipated over the years by the rise of liberalism.  Like the proverbial bullfrog in a pan of water, most Americans have failed to notice the advances of socialism pushing aside liberalism and taking over the Democratic Party during the past few decades.

Even more important is the fact that a large number of the “baby-boomer” and later generations have embraced socialist programs with open arms.  Today the country seems to be somewhat evenly divided between those who still believe in the American ideals on which the nation was founded and those who believe in utopian collectivism.

The contest in November will be divided among those who believe in the Marxist philosophy of government, those who believe in Jeffersonian republicanism, and those who know little or nothing about either.  To a large extent, the future of America will be in the hands of uninformed voters.  Hopefully enough of these will still have the historical characteristics of the average American who values individualism, liberty, and self-reliance, to reject the lures of socialism and vote in favor of liberty.

If, by the grace of God, we are able to postpone a complete socialist takeover of government by electing John McCain and hopefully, a Republican Congress, we are by no means, out of the woods.  The reaction of the socialist/democrats to the loss of congressional power in 1994 followed by the loss of the White House in 2000, gives us some idea of what the next eight years will be like in American politics if John McCain wins the Presidency in 2008.

At best, we will have four or eight years to rebuild the conservative movement, before Hillary Clinton makes another bid for the White House.  Short of a government reformation, returning to the concept of a Constitutional Republic based on the rule of law and inalienable rights, the best we can hope for is a delay in an eventual takeover by socialism.


America’s Moral Failure

A lot of food for thought came out of the Saddleback Church forum last Saturday night. Abortion, the Constitution, the Supreme Court, marriage, world hunger, and many other subjects of importance in choosing a President came up, either directly or indirectly. One of the most important aspects of the forum was the opportunity to compare the maturity, judgment, and life experiences of the two candidates.

Obama’s hesitancy as he groped for politically correct answers to the questions was certainly revealing when compared with the crisp, concise answers by McCain. In spite of Obama’s less than sterling performance, there will probably be little change in his poll numbers. The core Obama supporter is not interested in ethical or moral questions. Their only concern is his ideology and pliability.

Obama supporters come from two groups, socialists and “habitual” democrats. Their numbers are more or less constant at between thirty and forty percent of the voting population. Add to that another ten to fifteen percent who pay little attention to politics; those who get their information in “snippets” picked up from three minute news broadcast on music radio, entertainment TV, and while looking for the sports pages in the newspaper, and it’s still possible for Obama to succeed in November.

One question that caught my attention was when Pastor Rick Warren asked, “What would be the greatest moral failure of your life, and what would be the greatest moral failure for America?” Obama referred back to his youthful indulgence in alcohol and drugs. McCain mentioned the failure of his first marriage.

As to America’s greatest moral failure, both candidates gave a similar response having to do with a failure to address social issues in the world. To me the greatest moral failure of American has been the government’s failure to keep faith with the American People. Most if not all national problems can be traced back to this one basic failure.

Our form of government was “sold” to the American people based on certain promises made by the political leaders of the day.

  • The powers of the central government would be limited to those specified in the Constitution.(Article One, Section Eight and Federalist 41)
  • The Sovereignty of the individual states would not be supplanted by the central government. (Amendment 10)
  • The judicial system would be the “weakest” of the three branches of government and judges who were unfaithful to the Constitution would be subject to impeachment. (Federalist 78, 79)

These and many other promises were made to the people of the thirteen original states in order to persuade them to accept and ratify the Constitution. The three most famous “salesmen” for the Constitution were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, authors of the Federalist Papers. For the first hundred years or so most political leaders took their oath of office seriously and attempted to uphold the Constitution.

Since then it has been fashionable for political leaders who wish to exercise powers not sanctioned by the Constitution to use the “three-step” method of interpretation used by many religious people to interpret the Bible.

  • Step One: Look for permission to do what you want in the meaning of the text itself.
  • Step Two: If unsuccessful, read “between the lines” looking for a principle that will support your position.
  • Step Three: If still unsuccessful, look for a hidden meaning, i.e. what the writer really meant by what he said.

Using these interpretative techniques, the “meaning” of our founding documents has evolved to the point they bear little resemblance to the originals. The natural “right to life” has been changed to a “right to prevent life”. The right to “keep (own) and bear (carry) arms” has been limited to those who acquire special permission from the government. “Freedom of religion” has been changed to “freedom from religion”. The power of Congress to regulate the buying and selling of goods (commerce) between the states has been expanded to permit Congress to regulate all parts of the economy.

These broken promises by the government and the American people’s toleration of elected officials who make a mockery of their oath of office are the primary reasons we find ourselves faced with most of the problems we are wrestling with now. Our failing education system, the exorbitant cost of primary health care, the energy crisis, and the declining economy can all be traced to the government’s failure to keep faith with the people.

Copy and e-mail this link to a friend: illinoisconservative.wordpress.com/America’s Moral Failures


The Fruits of Socialism

America is among the wealthiest nations on earth. Its people enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living. Its government is one of the wealthiest, with assets of over $1.2 trillion, according to the OMB balance sheet of September 30, 2007. The government and the people exist in a symbiotic relationship, a relationship built on mutual self-deception. The government deludes itself into believing the people have an unlimited supply of wealth that can be appropriated at will for its benefit. On the other hand, the people delude themselves into believing the government has an infinite supply of money they can demand be spent for their benefit.

The thinking of both groups contains fatal flaws that, unless corrected, will eventually lead to the economic destruction of both. Wealth is a finite resource for both the government and the people. Like a delicate houseplant, it must be carefully nurtured and managed if it is to continue to thrive and grow. Irresponsible spending by government and irresponsible demands on government by the people has given us an illusion of prosperity that is unsustainable for any lengthy period of time.

The process by which a government goes from wealth to ruin is not complicated. We are currently spending approximately $3.1 trillion annually. Revenues amount to about $2.7 trillion. The only source of revenue the government has is what is confiscated from the people through taxation. Contrary to popular belief, 81% of taxes come directly from personal earned income. Only 12% comes from corporate income taxes, 2% from excise taxes, 1% from estate and gift taxes, 1% from customs duties and 1.9% from all other sources. The remaining 81% comes directly from you and me, 47% from individual income taxes and 34% from FICA, Medicare and similar taxes.

The $1.7 billion per day difference between what the government spends and what it takes in in taxes is handled in one of two ways. It either increases revenue, (taxes) or puts it on the credit card (national debt). Whenever government raises taxes it decreases economic activity. If the tax increase is on the lower or middle class, consumers have less to spend which results in fewer jobs and lower personal income. If the tax increase is on the “rich”, investors have less money to invest in expansion, business start-ups and payrolls which results in fewer jobs and lower personal income. In other words, no matter who gets the tax increase we all eventually get a lower standard of living.

The alternative, practiced by irresponsible government and irresponsible consumers alike, with the same disastrous results, of paying day-to-day expenses by borrowing against future income eventually leads to bankruptcy. It takes longer for a government with an income in the trillions than for a family with an income in the thousands, to experience the inevitable, but the day of reckoning always comes.

When you track our national debt from the end of World War Two to the present you notice an interesting fact. Our financial woes track perfectly the rise in socialism, from the new deal, to the great society, to the present day. In 1946, the national debt was around $300 million in 2007 dollars. Today it stands at $9,543,844,967,504.65 as of July 26, according Ed Hall at the National Debt Clock.

61% of the government’s annual budget is spent on unconstitutional social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, income security, health, education, training, employment and social services.

I should also note that government regulations have the same affect on the economy as increased taxes. Regulations increase the cost of doing business and add to the price of all goods and services. (gasoline for example) Again, the result is a lowering of the standard of living for us all. We need to think about these things as we decide whom we are going to send to Washington next year.

Americans are funny people. Most of our current financial woes are the direct result of government interference in the economy, in the name of “fairness” according to socialist standards. This is true whether we are talking about energy, healthcare, or housing. When government really gets things screwed up, what is the answer? More government.  More socialism.  Karl Marx must be dancing for joy, wherever he is today.

Neither the agendas of McCain or Obama will solve our problems, since both want more government control over the economy. In their defense, however, it must be pointed out that the voters are demanding more interference, not less. This could be the decade when we get the government we deserve.

If Obama is successful in getting his agenda implemented, both taxes and the national debt will skyrocket and the economy will plummet. Not only is he promising unrealistic social programs for America, but he also promises to expand many of those programs into other parts of the globe as well. Under Obama, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America can all expect to profit from the largess of the American people and their labor.

In pointing out the oddity of the American people demanding more action from government as the negative effects of government actions surface, I should also point out that the government suffers from a similar malfunction. As the government increases spending, it must also increase taxes, which in turn, dampens economic activity resulting in fewer taxes going to the government. The government, like many citizens prefers to spend available income on luxuries hoping the “tooth fairy” will supply the money for necessities. When the hoped for funds fail to materialize, what is the answer? More taxes. Yes, it is a great country.


Your Tax Dollars at Work

One of my favorite quotations from Thomas Jefferson, and one that I often quote, is a sentence from his first Inaugural Address in 1801. In it, he gives to Congress and the American people his definition of a good government.

“….“a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government,….”

This quotation came to mind a couple of days ago when I read an article by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. According to Mr. Norquist, America celebrated “Cost of Government Day” on July 16 this year. Cost of Government Day is different from “Tax Freedom Day” which came this year on April 23.

Tax Freedom Day is the day the average American has earned enough income to pay his share of taxes for that year. Cost of Government Day is the day the average American has earned enough income to pay the actual cost of government for that year. The reasons for the difference between the two dates are twofold.

Tax Freedom Day is simply a measure of all taxes collected at the federal, state and local level compared to the total national income. It does not attempt to measure the actual cost to taxpayers of running the government. For instance, it does not include government I.O.U.s and it does not include the money paid by the taxpayer in higher prices for goods and services caused by government regulations.

When all factors are considered, the total cost of government consumes a shocking 54% of all the income earned from all sources in America. The total tax burden for 2008 is 30.8%. The difference of 23.2% represents the amount not paid directly by the taxpayer as taxes in the current year.

According to Norquist, 18% of the national income goes to pay the hidden costs of federal and state regulations. The taxpayer feels these costs as higher prices paid for goods and services. The remaining 5% is the amount borrowed by the government that will eventually have to be paid by future generations.

The cost of government as a percentage of national income breaks down as follows:

  • 22.3% cost of federal government
  • 14.2% cost of state and local government
  • 11.5% cost of federal regulations
  • 6% cost of state regulations

We should all be outraged by how far our government has strayed from the principles laid down by the Founding Fathers. By Jefferson’s standards, our experiment in self-government appears to be a miserable failure. Our government is certainly not “wise and frugal”. It does only a mediocre job at preventing us from harming one another. Instead of leaving us “free to our own pursuits of industry and improvement”, we find ourselves hemmed in on all sides by government regulations. As to, “taking from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned”; that seems to be the one thing at which government is most efficient.

How can we call ourselves a free people when over half our lifetime is spent in servitude to the government? The level of servitude promises to increase dramatically after the 2008 elections. Both Presidential candidates have promised major expansions of government into still more areas of our lives. Obama has indicated he will not only confiscate the fruits of our labor for government use, but will also ask us to give of our free time to some type of “community service” of his choosing and under his direction. In his July 2, speech at Colorado Springs, Colorado he reminded us,

“I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am President of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program—this will be the central cause of my presidency. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.”

If Obama is elected President, he has promised to increase the cost of government still more. McCain has also promised to increase the cost of government if he is elected, but by somewhat less than Obama. Can we afford either?

Home Page