SEARCH BLOG: TAXES and POLITICS
Note: special thanks to Shannon Skousgaard, Ph.D.; Professor Emerita, Associate Professor of George Mason University, and private consultant on ethics in business, for suggestions.Part of the great divide in U.S. politics centers on economic matters and what are appropriate expectations of the people and of the government.
From Friday's post:
Critical thinking doesn't first seek the right answers; it seeks the right questions. The right answers follow....Current estimates of the national debt are in the $15 trillion-plus range; current estimates of the percent of people not paying federal income taxes is approaching 50%, Clearly, something is wrong... if the goal is zero on both counts; clearly the answers being given to correcting the situation are not so clear.
The first question we should ask is whether the numbers are correct. In the case of cumulative budget deficits [spending more than receiving], the number appears to be reasonably well agreed upon. In the case of income tax avoidance [legal or not], the number may be misleading [image source].
because it doesn't necessarily go to Social Security since Lyndon Johnson raided that piggy bank]. And everyone pays federal gasoline taxes and the myriad federal surcharge fees. Rare is the person who escapes the grasping fingers of the U.S. government. Of course, it is wholly reasonable to ask if anyone should avoid all federal taxes.
The argument to increase federal income tax rates on all or some taxpayers is somewhat of a red herring given that would have minimal impact on the revenue stream from which the government spends. It is more of an emotional "share the pain" cry. This is a case of providing an answer without asking the correct question which is: what is needed to run the federal government efficiently, effectively, and appropriately?
- how can the government increase revenues?
- who should pay more taxes?
- which programs should be cut?
- what government programs should be privatized?
No, the question that has not been answered is: what is needed to run the federal government efficiently, effectively, and appropriately? It's that last bit that gets ignored by most of the answers being offered... what is appropriate?
[image source] There is an obvious disconnect between the legislative process that determines budgets and spending and taxes and programs... and establishing an efficient, effective, and appropriate government. Most of the answers regarding determining what the government should be doing and how it should be doing it boil down to: any way we want and any way we can.
If, as the Washington Post wrote, our Supreme Court, arbiter of the law of the land, is to be populated with judges who are swayed by their own personal experiences and feelings rather than critical evaluation based solely on the law, then those judges are bringing their own answers, before raising questions dictated by the law itself.
"Together with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan's confirmation would represent a shift toward a younger, changing court, one that values experiences outside the courtroom and emphasizes personal interactions as much as deep knowledge of the law." The Washington Post [emphasis mine]when it is simply too inconvenient, then the framework within which the right questions can be asked is broken... and any answers regarding the efficiency, effectiveness, and appropriateness of the federal government become meaningless.
Instead, we get un-elected "czars", unmanageable laws, overbearing regulations, and massive special interest giveaways... all of which go unchallenged and unabated.
It is altogether likely that our federal government is an excellent reflection of who and what we are becoming as a nation and what has become of our culture... a reflection of ourselves that most people... when asked... do not like, but can't quite understand why. The people and politicians have a lot of answers, but just not the right questions.
Indeed, if this is the case, it would seem the first question should be: "How can the constitutional and legal framework for the federal government be restored?" Then the questions regarding efficiency, effectiveness, and appropriateness can be addressed.
FRIDAY, JUNE 05, 2009Diversity Or FragmentationUpdate - From the U.S. House Of Representatives: