These men up north honey sure do make me tired
These men up north they surely do make me tired
They've got a mouth full of gimme, and a handful of much obliged
-- Ella Fitzgerald | Gulf Coast Blues
After hearing Michelle Obama's stump speech four times, New Yorker writer Lauren Collins offers this pearl:
"You're looking at a young couple that's just a few years out of debt," Obama said. "See, because, we went to those good schools, and we didn't have trust funds. I'm still waiting for Barack's trust fund. Especially after I heard that Dick Cheney was s'posed to be a relative or something. Give us something here!" -- Michelle Obama: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
Can we get us something from the government? Yes we can!
Can we get us more from the government than we've gotten already? Yes we can!
Can we get us more of the same service that's given the country the USPS, the Social Security System, Medicare, and a tax code so complex it needs a semi-truck just to move it around town? Yes we can!
When I worked in book publishing in Boston, there was an old woman that haunted the sidewalk outside my office on Park Street. She stood there in all weathers working at her job. Her job was to ask every person that passed her on this busy downtown street, "Spare a quarter?"
She got a quarter out of about every fifth person. We once estimated she made about $75 a day, tax free. That worked out to a take homeless of $18,750 a year in 1983. Not bad when you considered that she had zero overhead.
Imagine that street worker transported to 2009 and endowed with the power not to ask but to demand a quarter from everybody who passed her to and from their way to work. This "on demand begging" boosts her up to $93,750 a year. In 1983 dollars. That makes her line of work look less like begging and more like a career. And that's what the Obama promises hold.
When a private citizen demands money from you it's called robbery or extortion. When the government does it, it is a tax. And lurking in the dark center of the Obama promise penumbra is a whole new class of taxes -- "fairness taxes." Taxes to make everything, once and for all, "fair." And once you get fairness taxes in, can reparations be far behind? Not at all.
So far criticisms of the Obama promise penumbra cite and stall at the feared "rollback" of the tax cuts. But to my mind that's only the beginning, the nose of the brontosaurus.
What's coming down the road right after the rollback is going to be a scary circus clown car stuffed to the grill with funny little fees, small little appropriations, wee adjustments, and a mess of other miniscule mischief aimed at making everything "fair." No single item will be large, but in aggregate your pocket will be plucked. Fairly.
"Fairness taxes" are the logical ideological extension of "government grants." But that does not mean that they will supplant such grants. Not at all.
"Fairness taxes" mean the empowerment of a thousand different victim and interest groups who have all been slighted and who will all be dipping their hands into your pockets all day, every day. Each hand will take out just a quarter. You can spare a quarter, can't you? You've got jars of them around the house, don't you? But can you spare the hundredth quarter? Quarter number 100,000? You will. In the same spirit of giving you have when you pay your taxes.
That's what happens when people who hope for spare change get to make their wishes into law. That's what happens when the "Spare a quarter?" crowd elects "Give. Us. Something. Here!"
To quote another bromide salesman at a tent revival, "Dig deep brothers and sisters. For the good work."Posted by Vanderleun at March 5, 2008 8:54 AM | TrackBack