why the government is like your worthless brother-in-law.

Mathematically speaking, we need major tax increases.  The only way to straighten out the federal books while keeping roughly the same government services and fiscal obligations is to reduce other expenditures and jack up taxes on everyone, not just the top earners.

Here’s why it won’t work, though.  Even if we cranked the federal income tax rate up to 40% across the board, instituted a federal 15% VAT, and triple-taxed our gasoline like those enlightened Europeans do, we’ll still be in the same rut twenty years down the road.  That’s because the government doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to stewardship of our tax money.  Whenever we have a government program that actually generates a surplus, the money gets used for other purposes.  (See Social Security, whose much-invoked “trust fund” contains of nothing but a big-ass file cabinet full of I.O.U.s saying “We borrowed the surplus this year to buy more nukes/food stamps/spaceships.  Pay you back later.  Love, the Feds.”) If you triple the flow of tax revenue next year, they’ll find a way to quintuple expenses and borrow the rest from China.  That’s why I’m not terribly keen on paying more taxes…not because I can’t see that it’s a mathematical necessity, but because I know that the Fed is going to blow it all anyway.  When your worthless slacker brother-in-law reliably blows every last cent of his paycheck every month, the initial approach to his problems is not to give him a salary increase, but to make his expenses match his income.

Problem is, we only ever demand fiscal accountability from our government when it spends money on things we don’t like.  That’s why Gramps will rail against federal spending on frivolities like schools and space shuttles, but pitch a fit when someone proposes cutting back on Social Security and Medicare, even though they’re running in the red to a much greater degree.  Everyone just wants theirs, and then kick the can down the alley for the next generation to worry about.

We’re all to blame, because we tolerate that kind of fiscal insanity as long as we get what we want from Uncle Sam.  The way we’re electing the people who spend our money goes as follows:

Picture the United States as a family household.  That household has a combined monthly net income of $3,000, and a combined list of expenditures running $10,000.  The family writes out a job ad for an accountant/financial manager every four years, stipulating that he/she will have to run the household money, but also find a way to make the $1,200 payment on Dad’s Lexus, the $3,500 payment for the McMansion mortgage, $2,000 in groceries and restaurant expenses every month…oh, and the kids want new iPods and laptops every six months as well.  We don’t want to take steps to increase our income, and we don’t want to hear that we can’t have all the stuff on our list.  Say you can’t possibly find a way, and you don’t get the job.  If you promise that you can do it, you get the family checkbook, with the stipulation that you can write checks that won’t come due until your successor gets the job.

Is it any wonder that only crooks and morons get hired for the job?  The way our system is set up not only encourages fiscal irresponsibility and deficit spending, but practically guarantees it.

15 thoughts on “why the government is like your worthless brother-in-law.

  1. Chang says:

    Isn;t it illegal to live in NH and be for tax increases? Shocking!!!

  2. Mike Dodson says:

    Fair summation of the issue. But … what’s the solution?

    • Bryan S. says:

      Massive cuts, across the board. make bureaucrats get real jobs creating something other than paperwork.

      Slim it all down, war on drugs, war on poverty, dept of education, unionized jobs, defense spending. All of it, minimum 25%.

      Send congress home after 2 weeks, make them take a pay cut, a drastic one. $40 K a year, max, ever. No pension.

  3. Al T. says:

    Another way to look at it:

    Trying to put out a raging fire with gasoline.

    Not sure of the % of the Fed’s budget, but dropping Foreign Aid seems like a good idea.

  4. Arkh says:

    As good ol’ Bastiat was saying some time ago :
    “The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

  5. Außenseiter says:

    @Mike Dodson
    Yep.. fair summation.

    The solution: why should there be one?

    US has had the same system for too long, so it has too many fixes that benefit insiders.
    Politicians are as likely to radically and effectively cut welfare whether social or corporate as they are likely to run up the nearest skyscraper and jump off the top. Present system will shamble on for perhaps a decade. Then it’ll run out of money, and we’ll all live in very interesting times.

    About taxes:

    Also… there’s some evidence to support the notion that no matter how high the tax rate is in the US, the taxes collected as % of GDP are nearly the same.

    E.g.. top tax rate in 1950’s was 85+%, but the tax burden was ~20% of GDP. 2000 had a similar tax burden, but far less progressive taxation.

    http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/taxes/ustax.shtml
    (there was a better writeup of that somewhere..)

    Libertarianism seems like the opium of the middle class. The elites who rule pay what they choose to, as they are the ones who can most influence the tax laws…
    Google admitted to paying just 2.4% of it’s income in taxes.. so, they get to enjoy all the corporate welfare there is, while probably paying just slightly more than they would in a theoretical libertarian state..(of course, a deal this sweet won’t last in the long run, but people are dead in the long run, so they don’t care)

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-21/google-2-4-rate-shows-how-60-billion-u-s-revenue-lost-to-tax-loopholes.html

    So those who matter don’t need to change anything. There is no reason for them to support fiscal sanity eith Little people have to make do with grumbling and daydreaming.

    And unless shit really hits the fan, the zombie TV-addled majority won’t ever elect anyone who might change anything and upset the status quo. Even then, nothing is likely to change.

    I’m looking forward to the day assorted Tea Party politcritters get to govern and betray the people who helped elect them. It’ll be so very human, and at least as satisfying to watch as the Obama fiasco….

    • Tam says:

      Anybody who’s shocked will deserve what they get. The only one I have any hope for is Rand ibn’Wookie, and that only based on hoping the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. There’s just not enough good, wholesome, crazy in Congress these days.

      I’d rather see an honest commie nutcase like Cynthia McKinney than a scheming principle-free tepid sellout like Gingrich. At least you know which way McKinney’s gonna go…

      • Außenseiter says:

        Crazy is ok, but consider what happened when a genuinely crazy guy got elected premier in Serbia..

        Crazies are ok, as long as they’re not in charge.

  6. Doc Merlin says:

    The problem is that the public cost (and private benefit) of the state is state spending, but the private cost of the state is taxes.

  7. Fiftycal says:

    Raising taxes is exactly the WRONG thing to do. You know why all the “jobs are leaving the U.S.”? We have the highest corporate TAX in the world. Now if creating jobs and building commuitys was the purpose of a corporation, then they would be EAGER to pay taxes. But it isn’t. The purpose of a corporation is to make money for it’s stock holders. Now international companys have 3-4 trillion dollars sitting in foreign bank accounts ready to invest. But they won’t bring it back to the U.S. Why? Cuz it gets TAXED at 35% before the first dollar is invested. So what incentive is there to build a factory in Deetroit when you can build the same factory in China for at least 35% less? And the reasons deficit spending is so high are; Obammao giving bux to union buds and foreign banks (stimulus) and HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT! Instead of producing taxes, the unemployed are sucking up fed money. Quit giving away money to political hacks and get people employed and the deficit goes away. And GROWTH will bring in more money than “raising taxes”. Same thing that JFK and Reagan did. Opposite of what jimma carter and Obammao have done. FINALLY re-do the tax code. LOWER corporate tax rates or ELIMINATE them. Eliminate stoopid spending, ie, $100 million to renovate a mosque in Jordan? WHY? What U.S. jobs did this create? Millions to “study” how monkeys on cocaine act? WHY? And bring home the troops from Japan, Korea, Iraqi, etc. If Japan, Korea and Europe want our protection, then they can PAY FOR IT!

    You raise taxes, you kill any INCENTIVE to increase productivity. You think you need to raise taxes then let’s look for a new source. How about we TAX CHURCHES?

    • T.Stahl says:

      “And bring home the troops from Japan, Korea, Iraqi, etc. If Japan, Korea and Europe want our protection, then they can PAY FOR IT!”

      That’s called “opposite coast defense.” Preventing the enemy from staging an invasion by keeping the shore he’s start from. Fight war on someone else’s soil.

  8. George says:

    “Raising taxes is exactly the WRONG thing to do. ”
    “Isn;t it illegal to live in NH and be for tax increases? Shocking!!!”

    So did ya’ll even read the rest of the post or just the first paragraph?

    I’m pretty damn sure that Marko isn’t in favor of raising taxes.

  9. Mike says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure that some of y’all read the whole thing, either.

    I have to say that this was probably one of the best titles I’ve ever seen. The rest of the article is great, but the title is just 110% pure WIN!

  10. Al Terego says:

    I wish gov *was* like my worthless slacker brother-in-law; when his useless ass blows every last cent, it’s *his* paycheck, not mine. AT

  11. I am reminded of this exchange from a certain ’90s film…

    “What is this? What is this? Where’s all the money?”
    “That’s as good as money, sir. Those are I.O.U.’s. Go ahead and add it up, every cent’s accounted for. Look, see this? That’s a car. 275 thou. Might wanna hang onto that one.”

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