Friday, June 22, 2007

What I Would've Bought...

With this month's salary I would have bought a new, fuel efficient vehicle, which would have helped the environment, reduced my fuel consumption, and given the flagging auto industry a boost. Not to mention given me a working air conditioner.

With this month's salary I would have doubled my charitable donations, increasing my local homeless shelter and food bank's ability to assist my community's poor.

With this month's salary I would have invested in my retirement, earning a good rate of return, preparing myself and my family for the future, and helping the economy by increasing overall investment.

But, instead of doing any of those things, my money paid for:

Divorce attorneys, season football tickets, champagne, Girls Gone Wild videos, tropical vacations, and a sex change operation- all purchased through the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina.

Instead of donating to the food bank, my money went to Gus in the form of food stamps, which since he received far more than his family could use, he then turned around and sold the excess to his buddies for 50 cents on the dollar.

Instead of spending, investing, or donating my money how I choose, it will go to pay for...well, I actually won't know for a little while because, according to the House Appropriations Committee Chair, there's so many spending requests there "isn't enough time" to make them public.


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

As to the first list, according to a government audit report, most of those items were purchased, not by those who should have been receiving funds, but those to whom they were channeled - government contractors. This is not an argument against FEMA, but an argument against fraud, abuse, and the general kleptocracy of Republican-led government.

As to your general tone - you have a choice. You can take your money and invest it however you wish, or you can support the entire country, even those undeserving in your eyes, through taxes. We either pull together or fall apart. It's really that simple.

Cameron said...

Geoffrey, I don't have a choice. If that money isn't deducted from my paycheck, I go to jail. If I had a choice, I certainly wouldn't have chosen to pay for someone's vacation to Hawaii.

And it's not "Republican-led" government. It's government. I worked for a "Democratic-led" government, and it was the same. Gus gets, and sells, his food stamps regardless of the party in power. It's the current democratic majority that doesn't want anyone to know what it is they're spending our taxes on.

If I, and the rest of America, were allowed to spend my money as I choose, then it would be used for things that actually help others, and help the economy, instead of being wasted by the kleptocracy of government.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Your entire premise is flawed from the get-go. You would not exist without all the various ways government provides you with a legal identity, the police power to provide security, the legal infrastructure that defines the place of your existence, etc. Taxes, as annoying as they are, are the debt we owe the entire national community for providing us with all that defines us as Americans.

The alternatives, of course, have been practices. When a state no longer deems it necessary to legally support a group within its borders, they become non-persons, with no rights anyone has any duty to acknowledge. In the US, this was called slavery. In Europe, it was called fascism. An interesting study of the results of the creation of legal non-persons by states, and what they do with these surplus populations that have no legal standing anywhere in the world, was written by Richard Rubenstein, The Age of Triage. Find it on Amazon, and read it.

Cameron said...

You misunderstand the premise. This is not an argument for anarchy, nor an argument for zero taxes. It is an argument against stupid and excessive taxes, brought about by stupid, excessive and fraudulent spending.

The record is pretty clear that government mismanages its funds, is easily stolen from, and is extremely inefficient. That is my premise, and you have not argued that point.

As to what you have argued, our government was not designed to give Americans their identity. The entire point of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution is based on "We the People"; it is the citizens that give identity to the government, not the other way around.

That said, when the country's first government was organized, the leaders' zeal for limited government made it much too weak. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were created to strike a balance between a strong enough federal government and one that couldn't become another tyranny.

I don't think they intended for me to pay for sex change operations.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Your premise is true but unremarkable. Of course government is inefficient. Of course government is prone to fraud, corruption, and abuse. There is no way around it. Thus, we are back at the unspoken premise that no government would be better, because the alternative is bad government (even at the best of times, waste, fraud, and abuse are rampant; with a budget surpassing one trillion dollars, there is simply no way to account for all that money, even if most of it exists only on paper).

Also, I forgot to mention in my previous comment that your "They all are thieves regardless of party" line doesn't quite make it. We are in the midst of a crisis of legal governance that, with the sole exception of William Jefferson of Louisiana, contains a roll call of Republican legislators. In theory at least, yes, they all may do it; in reality, it is many current Republicans who actually are doing it. That was my point.

Cameron said...

You agree that my premise is true,

"an argument against stupid and excessive taxes, brought about by stupid, excessive and fraudulent spending"

and your answer is, oh well? It's hard to make government efficient so why bother?

The answer to bad government is not no government. It's better government. It's not allowing bad government to pay for NFL season tickets. It's realizing that bad government obviously has too much "revenue" if it is busily paying for someone's divorce attorney. It's realizing, as I did, that a whole lot of good could have been done with the money automatically deducted from our wages, but instead was wasted.

My advocating for fewer taxes and smarter spending is not an "unspoken premise" for zero government, any more than your indifference to the blatantly stupid spending is an unspoken premise for socialism.

None said...

This is all rather funny.. Cameron doesnt want to pay taxes. My god.. what next? Please, let us know what happens when you dont file this year.. and next year.. ect.

Besides, this argument seems to be that of fraud. I'm pretty sure everybody is against that. And, Cameron, if you are complaining about fraud, perhaps more law enforcement is needed. To pay for the extra officers.. might I suggest a raise in taxes. You know.. so you wont have to pay for the.. what is it? The "kleptocracy of Republican-led government".

Just a bit of a side note.. I used to work for a company that tried to hire illegals to work IT, printed / emailed racist and or pornographic material and was generally unethical. To me, this is what you are arguing for. To suggest that its only government that is inept is completely false.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I am not saying we do nothing about it. I am saying that some level of corruption and illegality will always be present. Your complaint is that (a) taxes are too high and government has too much money; (b) your solution is lower taxes and reigning in spending. My response is (a) no matter the level or amount of taxation, there will be abuses; (b) there are administrative and legal solutions, but they also create their own problems.

It is a vicious cycle, and there really is no good answer for it. The alternatives are unworkable, based upon unrealistic and ahistorical ways of looking at human beings and government. Yes, I do settle for a bit of graft because I understand that, sadly, there is no way to avoid it. There are surely things in the federal budget that need to go; there are also things in the federal budget that need to be there but are not.

My own problem is that I see this as a problem without a final solution that satisfies everybody. We can work to make the system more transparent, the people and institutions more accountable, but there is still too much money to be tracked, and unless you want the US to have the budget of Bolivia, say, or Myanmar, we are left in the position of offering the occasional perk to a federal felon.