Sunday, September 26, 2010

Class, Culture, and Word Wars

I am so sick of the tired arguments I am hearing and reading. Really. Really sick. There are folks who are beating the drums for government growth in the name of economic prosperity and it makes me want to tear out my hair...

Argument number one: Extending the "Bush Tax Cuts" across the board is like giving a "present" to "rich people," and why should we do that? Here's the problem with that... the government is incapable of "giving a present" through a legitimate tax cut. Meanwhile, nobody is calling the misnamed Earned Income Tax Credit a gift - even though it very clearly is. See, when the government decides to allow someone to keep their own money, this is NOT a gift. This is what would happen with extending the tax cuts or making them permanent. The Earned Income Tax Credit, though, is when the government sees that someone didn't make very much money on their own and so, instead of them paying taxes the government gives them extra money. THAT is a gift.

Argument number two: The economy is better stimulated by giving out money to the poor because the poor spend all their money while the rich save theirs. Hoo-boy. This is a really annoying one for me. First of all, the "rich" don't "save" their money by cutting a hole in their mattress and sleeping on the stuff. In fact, I would argue that the rich don't really "save" their money at all - at least not in the sense that "poor" people might be tempted to. See, people with money don't want to put it in a jar and stare at it. The sorry fact is that money won't grow there. And rich people like to get richer. So... their method of "saving" is actually "investing." This means that they take their money and decide where it is most likely to grow... and they invest it in these things. This actually creates growth in the private sector of the economy... creating jobs and allowing more people to get to work and spend their own darned money. If you take that same money and simply hand it to poor folks, they spend it - but it hasn't created a job for them. So, essentially, they need another handout next week.

Argument number three: There are many different ways to grow the economy. A tax cut is only one of them. Building public infrastructure is another. Adding government jobs is another. This one kills me. Government jobs are a part of the economy, much the same way that a drain is part of the overall plumbing system of a house. The government doesn't produce anything, doesn't retain a profit... it's an endless sinkhole into oblivion. So, to "create jobs" through the government they must first take money from the private sector to pay that person - and, likely, to put them in some beautiful brick building since we also just created a job through "public infrastructure." This ensures that the new government employee also gets a corner office with a view and plants in the lobby. But all that money to build the building, pay the employees and maintain both has to first get pulled out of the private sector where legitimate job creation through profit and supply and demand could be taking place. So where that money in the private sector could be invested in new innovative technologies... in new products... and yes, in new sales pitches to get the American public buying the product... it is now sucked into the vortex that is government spending. But HEY. Someone has a job.

Argument number four: What we're really worried about is growing income inequality. We just want to make life fair. Well, buck up, little camper. Life isn't fair. And income inequality, to some degree, makes sense. If you want to make more money, get out there and better yourself. Use your creativity... use your gray matter to figure out what needs doing and get it done. Charge for it. This is the way capitalism works. Frankly, if you're sitting around complaining because someone else makes more money than you do -- and holding out your hand to the federal government, expecting them to "even things up," you're sitting in a mess of your own making. This is the land of opportunity... but nobody promised opportunity was going to beat down your door, drag you out of bed, light the way for you, and make you drink from its fountain. You actually have to find opportunity for yourself.

If our country chooses to continue listening to these four arguments, we will no longer be the beacon of freedom and opportunity we once were. And we will all be sitting together in a mess of our own making.