The government is giving away your money…to you

by Michael Smith

I occasionally read an opinion piece and agree with every word of it. Naturally, my first thought is “Wow. This guy must be brilliant—he’s right about everything.” In humbler moments, I’m just glad for the company. Here’s a letter to the editor from one of my intellectual brothers in arms, from USA Today:

USA TODAY’s editorial “GOP’s battle plan fails the fiscal responsibility test” refers to extending the Bush tax cuts as a “giveaway” (Our view, ‘A Pledge to America’ debate, Friday). The word giveaway implies transfer of ownership, in this case from government to the citizens.

I, and many Americans like me, spend more than three months of the year working for no pay, as the equivalent portion of our incomes is used to pay taxes to a government that seems increasingly unwilling or unable to solve the real problems facing our nation.

That USA TODAY would refer to the return of any portion of this money, and our time spent making it, as a giveaway displays a complete and frightening misunderstanding of the relationship between citizens and their elected government.

Mark D. Cavers; Chicago

This writer hits a pet peeve of mine: the crude twisting of words that transforms taxation (and the inevitable fluctuation of tax rates) into a process whereby the government “gives” money to a lucky few. It’s as if the highest rate that has ever applied to you is your “natural” tax burden, and if the government ever lets you off with a lower rate, you’re benefitting from its charity. Excuse me while I spit.

You can find denunciations of these alleged gifts to taxpayers all over the Internet. My favorites appear on the editorial page of the New York Times, where Paul Krugman rails against “shoveling” and “showering” money on the evil rich. Funny how you can be that confused about who’s giving what to whom on April 15 and yet win a Nobel prize in economics. I wonder where the economists who lost out to Krugman think tax dollars come from—the Easter bunny?

Mr. Cavers indirectly references the Tax Foundation’s venerable “Tax Freedom Day” when he complains about working three months for no pay. Like many of us, he’s not happy with the return he gets for that investment. If the future belongs to the efficient, our shares of the U.S. government are looking limp. Too bad you can’t just call your stockbroker and say “sell.”

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