Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chicago Closes Schools, Funds Sports Arena

Sen. Bernie Sanders recently published a HuffPost op-ed lauding Denmark's higher-quality government services that are funded through higher taxes; and like every other Europe-worshiping socialist, he wonders why we "regressive" Americans have to be so "backwards" in opposing such higher taxes and "good government."

Now I don't know much about Denmark, other than its population is roughly that of Manhattan, but if I had to wager, I would guess the country's economy is not in the toilet, its unemployment rate is not record high, and its workers are not grossly underpaid. So assuming all of that is true, it's no surprise that this small, wealthy nation can afford to pay higher taxes.

But let's assume that our social, political, and economic climate was exactly identical to Denmark's: why can't we anti-tax, anti-government Americans have the same quality government services funded through higher taxes?

We need only look at Chicago for the answer.

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel had to make some tough decisions in order to balance his city's budget, deciding which areas to cut and increase spending.

Now during such harsh economic times, a rational public official would not snatch a dime from vital public services that his constituents depend on, and would instead cut spending to wasteful pork-barrel projects.

But sadly, we do not have rational public officials. We have crooked public officials like Emmanuel who care more about their special interest donors than their own constituents.

So what does the mayor do? He decides to shut down 50 public schools, which he claims are necessary "to close budget gaps", while spending $100 million on a basketball arena he claims will create jobs and revenue for his city.

Now I'm no fan of the public school system, nor do I believe the delusion that it can be fixed by "throwing more money at it." Empirical evidence prevents me from believing such.

But if I were the mayor of a cash-strapped city, the public schools would be the very last thing I would cut, and wasteful pork barrel spending would be the main targets of my cuts.

And this is why I do not support higher taxes: our government officials are too incompetent to spend them properly.

Let's assume that we did pay higher taxes. In fact, let's assume that all of our money went directly to the government. Would the result be better government services that benefit us?

We need only look at our current federal budget for the answer. Where does our taxpayer money mostly go to? Healthcare? Education? Infrastructure? No. It goes to the military-industrial complex and corporate welfare--none of which benefits us directly. And yet these are the areas that would be mostly funded if we did have higher taxes.

Government apologists like Bernie Sanders can preach about how taxes are the "fees" for living in "civilized society" and how they fund "roads, bridges, and schools," but the stark reality is that this is not how taxes work in this country. They do not go to things we need. They do not go to things that benefit us. The only line the pockets of defense contractors and corporate whores.

So in short, we do not have a tax problem in this country, we have a spending problem. And I don't just mean that we spend too much, but that we spend too much on the wrong things. If we were to end the wars, cut military spending, reform entitlement programs, and eliminate corporate welfare, and then relocate the revenue that would have funded those areas elsewhere, we would not have to raise a single dime in taxes.

But sadly, doing so would require rational politicians. And sadly, we don't have rational politicians. We have crooked politicians. But then again, when in political history has that never been the case?