Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The Native Conservative
Mitt Romney wasn't wrong. Well, he wasn't all wrong. There are a lot of people in this country who get more than they give.
What Mitt forgot is this: We all get something, and most of us get a lot. Even him. Definitely him.
After all, the Romneys didn't claim half of their charitable deductions in 2011 in order to keep their tax rate above 13 percent -- a good indication of all the subsidies and deductions available to the wealthy in this country -- every one of them granted by a Congress that is full of wealthy politicians.
But the handouts aren't limited to the rich. Government largess is present in every aspect of our lives. In the Sept. 17 edition of Time magazine, Michael Grunwald wrote a very creative article detailing the federal government's subsidies in all aspects of his family's life.
From cotton (his T-shirt) to corn (fuel and food), child care to property taxes to home office expenses (deductible), health care, energy (electricity, gas, oil, wind and more), energy efficiency (window treatments), the mail, his local beaches (The Army Corps of Engineers spends $15.75 million a year to preserve beaches), even his favorite media -- public broadcasting.
One subsidy Grunwald doesn't yet receive is Social Security -- so he's helping send those Social Security checks to those who do.
You should be aware that the feds spent all the money you contributed to the Social Security system -- and your children and grandchildren will be the ones who have to pay for your Social Security checks -- sort of a Ponzi scheme gone bad.
Here's an example of government largess that hits close to home. The hatcheries of Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife raise and stock 1.5 million fish a year, at an average cost of $2 per fish.
If you buy a $19 fishing license and keep just 10 of those stocked fish a year, you are $1 to the good. If you keep more than 10 fish a year, other anglers are paying for your fish.
Analyzed another way, if you divide the 1.5 million fish by the 350,000 anglers who buy fishing licenses, each of us is entitled to just four fish. So if you keep a single daily bag limit of five stocked fish, you've stolen someone else's fish.
And did you really think you paid for your kid's education? No. Every taxpayer helped do that.
Please don't fool yourself. There is very little in your life that is not subsidized by some level of our pervasive all-knowing all-serving overly generous "What can I do for you today?" government.
In fact, even this newspaper is delivered to you below cost, thanks in part to government advertising. You say you're reading this column online? Well, what did you pay to the newspaper for that opportunity?
The primary reason that the president and Congress can't balance the budget is our own fierce opposition to either reducing our own federal subsidies or raising our own taxes.
Sure, cut those undeserving freeloaders, those people who consider themselves victims. But not me!
Oh, oh. Wait a minute. Didn't Romney get that reversed, when he said the 47 percent consider themselves victims? Isn't it his 53 percent who feel victimized by a system that takes their money and pays it out to the undeserving freeloaders?
Well, I'd say we're all victims -- of a political system that has failed each of us -- by being too generous to most of us.
What ever happened to the principle that the government should only do for us what we can't do for ourselves? As a Christian, I know our worth is measured by our service to others. It isn't what we accumulate that's important, it's what we give away.
And please don't think I hold myself up as an example. I'd be embarrassed to show you all my fly rods. Until each of us gives more than we get, we'll never resolve these battles.
When it comes to voting, each of us votes his or her own interests. We oppose candidates who indicate an interest in reducing the programs that benefit us, and support the candidates who promise us more.
Politicians who preach tough medicine -- who even acknowledge the need to reduce the services and subsidies each of us receives -- quickly get a name change from politician to "loser."
No matter who wins the presidential election and which party controls the Congress, they'll face a major roadblock in getting subsidies, entitlements, and federal spending under control. Us.
George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or email@example.com. Read more of Smith's writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.