At least we’re not in Belgium. And I’ll give out a free annual subscription to the first person who actually gets that obscure reference.
If there’s one thing that really bugs me when I’m doing my job, it’s when I’ve been engaged in a bunch of interesting conversations online, over e-mail and in person, but then have absolutely nothing that makes sense to write about. Today is one of those days.
So now I sit and type and wonder, just what have I written about before? I mean, I’m no professional journalist. I just sort of became one via osmosis. And truth be told, I can’t recall what I’ve written about over the past 12 years. Nor am I a glutton for the punishment involved in actually researching that information.
Will people think I harp too much on one topic? Probably. Then again, many also think I offer no solutions — that I just gripe and drone on with talking point after talking point. Never mind the fact that all of those points tend to be provable over time and in real life.
You see, when it comes to solutions for what ails this country, I think that’s exactly the problem: that politicians want to solve problems for us. Like ol’ Silent Cal, I’m a bigger fan of doing nothing and cutting taxes and spending. In other words, be fiscally prudent and let the free market sort it out. After all, history has proven this to be more helpful in solving the latest “crisis” than by having our ruling class sticking their noses in.
I had a friend ask me: “How in the hell do you keep getting into those kinds of conversations on Facebook?” My answer is I don’t know, but they seem to find me. And I guess this is as good a time as any on Tuesday to take this column in some direction.
What my friend referred to was a Facebook thread that involved “taxing the rich” a higher percentage on capital gains — in other words, implementing the “Buffet Rule.” The person on the other side said it wasn’t fair these folks pay a different income tax rate on capital gains than you and I pay on income. My position was simple. Capital gains are a separate tax from income tax. One has nothing to do with the other. Additionally, if those folks keep making money on money they’ve already been taxed on, and there was a tax on the additional money they make, then government is indeed generating more revenue as a result of the capital gains tax. But you see, to some, that extra tax still isn’t fair because the percentage isn’t high enough.
And my answer is: So?
Name something the government does that’s fair. By its very nature, any time the government inserts itself into the private sector, it’s creating an unfair burden on a particular group of people while creating an unfair, better result for another. And this is exactly what this person was asking for the government to do, take more from someone else, all while saying, of course, they didn’t envy someone else’s success or wealth.
So let’s say we invoke the Buffet Rule. Estimates are it could generate an additional $5 billion to $50 billion in tax revenues depending on its implementation. That is, if every thing remained the same. But what does history show? That’s correct. Revenues will go down as a result of the regulation simply because people will move their money into a safer, less expensive way of investing. But there’s no sense in understanding what is proven if it can make a whole group of voters feel better.
But just for giggles, let’s say I’m wrong and the Buffet Rule does bring an extra few billion dollars into government coffers each year. I also recall that when Kennedy, Reagan and Bush cut taxes, the government collected record revenues. So my question is this: Which would make you feel better, taxing the rich for a few pennies on the dollar or lowering taxes on everyone and getting exceedingly more because tax cuts work? I would think most people would prefer a lower tax burden for everyone along more tax revenues from a growing economy. But that’s not how it works any longer.
And that’s because the government doesn’t live within its means. I don’t recall in my lifetime that it ever has. And that is the real problem here. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Do you recall the depression that hit during the 1920s? Neither does Silent Cal. His doing nothing and cutting taxes and spending averted one when the economy tanked worse than it did in 1929.
Do you recall the Great Depression of the 1930s? Of course you do. That’s because Hoover and Roosevelt tried to solve everything problem going on in the economy like of couple of meth heads on a week-long bender. Sound familiar? Just replace those names with Bush and Obama and it’s the second verse, same as the first. Because folks, if we used the same measurements for inflation, unemployment and the economy as we did in the 1930s, you’d know we’re in a depression.
And you’d also know the reason as to why we’re not out of it.