Monday, July 16, 2012

Talk Radio on "Spending Our Money"

Since I was in the car, and our two rock stations were both playing commercials, I flipped over to the local talk radio station.  I listened until I smelled brain cells beginning to smolder - about five seconds.  This was enough time to hear the host indignant because of the way "our tax dollars" were being spent regarding some recent bone-headed government expenditure.  And we all do this.  Left-wingers, right-wingers, middle-wingers, and no-wingers all do this.  We complain the way government spends "our" money.  

But our complaints about such matters are invalid.  In fact, it really isn't any of our business what they do with it.  After all, they took it from us "fair and square" (wink wink).  Well, they took it anyway.  It ceased being ours when we handed it over to them.  I mean, it's not like we're going to be able to call the police and say "Officer, arrest the Congress, the State Legislature, and the City Council!  They stole my money and I want it back!"  In fact, the police officer is paid from the money that was taken from us.

We don't demand the money back because we have given our consent to have it taken.  Not that there is much choice!  And I offer the same advice to anyone and everyone when the tax man cometh as I would offer if a bandit were to put a gun in your face and say: "Your money or your life!"  Give him the money.  Pay up to live another day.  Unless you are willing to testify against your assailant later on, to accuse him of theft - then let him go in peace.  There is no sense resisting either the highwayman or the revenue agent.  The result will be the same.  Your life is worth more than money - even though "life" and "property" are both inalienable rights according to the philosophical musings of the American secessionists from Great Britain.

So again, once the money has been taken from us, it is no longer ours.  Government now owns it.  Of course they are going to spend it in ways we wouldn't - otherwise, they would not have taken it away from us.  They want to use it for different things - as it easily proven by the congressional pay and benefits system.

But some people will object and say: "But we have representation!"  Of course, we all know that there is something morally and politically repugnant about "taxation without representation."  We learned this watching School House Rock and other PBS programs (funded by, well, you know...).  But let's consider whether we have "representation" in this system.  We typically have no vote when it comes to taxes.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, we typically vote for candidates for office.  But once elected, they act as though they have a "mandate" to take our stuff.  So even if we grant the "representation" argument, unless we get to vote on every tax dollar, we really don't.  And even when we do vote directly on a tax, I will have to pay it even if I vote against it.  The majority is permitted to take from the minority.  On the school yard, this is called "bullying."  When adults who wear bandannas do it, we call it "gang banging."  When self-important people in suits do it, we call it "government."

And then there is the little problem of mathematics, of statistical significance.  If we are to pay a 9% sales tax on, say $103.29 - that means we "owe" $9.2961.  In fact, we will actually pay $9.30 - as the .61 of a penny gets "rounded up" to the next "significant figure."  When it comes to money, we round to the nearest penny - one per cent of a dollar.  Anything less than one percent is statistically insignificant.

So, if we are involved in an election with more than 100 voters, our vote is as statistically insignificant as rounding up a penny.  That is the "power" we have at the ballot box.  Typically, a voter is way less represented than one in a hundred, or even one in a thousand.  Often, millions of people cast ballots believing that their 0.0001 of a single percent is "representation."  People who would scoff at buying a lottery ticket with an infinitesimal chance of winning will restructure their entire day to vote - when it is as statistically significant as buying a Power Ball ticket - only without even a prayer of actually winning anything.  In fact, we can guarantee that quite the opposite will happen: we vote, and government wins the lottery!

Besides, if you buy that argument that we have "represenation," then we have already provided "consent" for them to "represent" us when they take our money.  We're a republic, remember?  We're not a democracy.

So if we're going to be intellectually honest, we should not complain about the way the federal, state, and local governments spend money that they have "collected" in taxes.  It's theirs to do what they want with it.  The real injustice is that they take  it from us in the first place.

Taking something that doesn't belong to you without your consent is wrong.

For government to be truly moral, it should truly be by consent of the governed.  We should pass around a collection plate like we do in church, or send out a mailing and ask for a donation, the way charities do.  That is consent.

And if government really ran according to the consent of the governed, with real, statistically significant representation, and if we were giving our money voluntarily rather than at the point of a gun - then we might have a legitimate complaint if we didn't like the way the money was spent.

I often think talk radio is not good for the mind or for the republic.  I guess I just proved one way talk radio can actually be good for both - listen for five seconds and expose the fallacy.  Then switch back to the rock station with your cerebral cells intact and enjoy the ear-bleach when the commercial is over.

1 comment:

read it said...

We are over taxed and the money frivolously spent because we expanded the franchise to women. As a woman, it brings me no joy to state it, but it is true.