Nowhere is this deceptive nuance more prevalent than when politicians talk about money. To those of us in the real world, we go out and work hard to earn money to provide for the needs of ourselves and our families. We have gross earnings, and then we have "take-home pay," which is the gross earnings minus the litany of state and federal taxes, insurance premiums, etc. If we take a pay cut, it means that our gross earnings are reduced from the previous level. This is how normal people speak.
The political world has its own Orwellian lexicon, where nothing means what it sounds like it means. Before we can even address the lexicon though, we have to address the larger underlying problem, namely, the philosophical differences between government and the average citizen. Since I believe the words of the Declaration and the Constitution, which says that I am a son of my Creator, endowed with unalienable rights, and that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed, I naturally believe that the fruits of my labor belong to me and me alone. As a citizen, I have agreed to take a portion of my earnings and contribute it to the funding of the cost of government, which is, in theory, to protect my rights.
Unfortunately, that is not how government thinks. Government sees all wealth creation as belonging to it. It then returns a portion of those earnings as it sees fit, giving you what it feels is a minimum necessary to provide for your basic needs. This is clearly understood if we look at the language of the tax code. Each year we pay, through income tax withholding, a portion of our earnings to government. At the end of the year we fill out a stack of tax forms, and then the government returns our money which it calculates we've paid above the necessary amount. In essence, we've given the government a zero-interest loan. Interestingly, when that tax overpayment is returned to the taxpayers, it is reflected in the government ledgers as expenditure. In the real world, expenditures are payments made with our money. In the government world, it is when it gives you back your own money.
This worldview of government as master of, instead of servant of, the people has become more and more obvious. There are numerous examples in just the last few months. Nowhere has it been more prominent than in the discussion of whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts.
Listen to some of the statements of President Obama:
"We can't give away $700 billion to folks who don't need it." This was referring to maintaining current tax rates for those earning $250,000 or more. Democrats claim that they are not raising taxes, but simply letting "tax cuts expire." In the real world though, that means taxes go up, and that is a tax increase. First of all, you can't "give away" what is not yours. The money belongs to the one who earned it, not government. Second of all, since when did Americans give power to government to decide how much of a person's money they "need?" Do we really want politicians and bureaucrats making that decision?
Expanding on his class warfare rhetoric, Obama said "You can't have Republicans running on fiscal discipline that we're gonna reduce our deficit, that the debt's out of control, and then borrow tens, hundreds of billions of dollars to give tax cuts to people who don't need them." So Democrats quadruple the deficit by adding a new entitlement in ObamaCare, increasing government budgets by more than 25 percent in just two years, spend hundreds of billions bailing out the unions and their cronies on Wall Street ... but we would have to "borrow" to "pay for" maintaining the current tax rates? The unstated supposition is that the spending is mandatory and can't be reduced by a single dollar, but allowing taxpayers to keep more of their earnings must be "paid for."
We saw this coming a year ago. Obama promised not to raise taxes, yet added literally trillions of dollars in new spending. Now that the cost of government has skyrocketed, the only option is to raise taxes because clearly if we cut spending at all, people will die in the streets and children will not be educated. Nonsense.
Another common refrain among Democrats is that the rich need to pay their "fair share." I absolutely agree, which is why I call for the Bush tax cuts to be maintained and even deepened. The fact is that, according to the Treasury Department's own data, the top 1 percent of all income earners pays 40 percent of all income taxes and the top 25 percent of earners account for 90 percent of all income taxes paid. Does that sound fair to you? Today, more than 50 percent of income earners pay zero in income taxes, and many actually received money from the government that they never earned (through the Earned Income Tax Credit and various welfare programs). When hard work is so viciously punished, those high earners will end up simply working less, which means less wealth production and fewer jobs. There is an estimated $2 trillion in private capital being held out of the economy right now. Why? Because those that earned it do not want to risk losing it in the form of higher taxes or lower margins due to a growing mountain of government red tape.
So when you are having trouble finding a job, or haven't gotten a raise in several years, and you are looking at the steady erosion of your income and buying power, just remember why that is. It is because we have a president that thinks that "at a certain point you've made enough money" and an entire political party that thinks excessive government spending is an "investment" but allowing people to keep more of their earnings "costs the government," that if you object to more of your earnings being stolen by government that you are "greedy," that deficits are not caused by excessive spending but because citizens aren't being taxed enough. This is the same mentality that allows our president and vice president to tour the country and proclaim that nearly 3 million jobs have been "created or saved," despite 10 percent unemployment and a net loss of more than 5 million jobs.
The midterm elections are coming in just over a month. We have the opportunity to vote and make significant changes to the governing body. Will we choose those that spout more of this ridiculous Alice-in-Wonderland nonsense even as our economy struggles and creeps closer to bankruptcy, or will we choose adults who will make the difficult decisions to cut spending, eliminate wasteful and unconstitutional programs, and return more of those earnings to those that produced it, and let them make the decision to spend it on what is important to them? The answer to that question will determine our fate.
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is vice chair of communications of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.