I entered the workforce in the 70s, before the Reagan Revolution, when marginal federal income tax rates on wages still reached as high as 70%. Newly married, we were a two-income household subject to federal income taxes, New York State income taxes, and New York City income taxes. Inflation was rampant, which caused my salary to rise noticeably each year. A little arithmetic confirmed what my paycheck already told me; more than half the increase in my modest, early career income was eaten up by higher taxes.
This is not another complaint about too high taxes or a grasping government (well, maybe just a little complaint). I bring up my good fortune to pay high marginal tax rates for my entire working life to make a point. Long ago, and for every year since that first epiphany, I have thought that I would feel a whole lot better about paying taxes if only I had some influence in how my money was spent. Maybe you've had the same thought. Wouldn't you like to have a say in how your hard-earned dollars get used, instead of seeing your money swept away each paycheck into that black hole of taxes known as Washington, DC?
Our largest expenditure each year, by far, is the share of earnings that goes to our national government. Like me, you probably carefully consider how to spend each available dollar left over after taxes. But not a peep is allowed from us mere taxpayers about how to spend the money we have to pay to Washington. Give a donation to a charity, and you will get back a nice note of thanks. Give as much to a charity as you pay to Washington, and you will get even greater expressions of appreciation. But even though you may pay a quarter or a third of your earnings to Washington, don't expect a thank you note from your government for the "contribution" you made to society this past year. Instead, powerful politicians with a sincere and straight face claim that some (you?, me?) are not paying their "fair share". Apparently, the 45.7% share of the total individual tax burden that is paid by the top 1% of taxpayers is still not a "fair share". more >>
Christian blogger Matt Walsh ripped into fast-food workers who reportedly rallied in some 230 American cities for a $15 minimum wage this week, and has declared, rather bluntly, that they don't deserve it.
"You earnestly believe — indeed, you've been led to this conclusion by pandering politicians and liberal pundits who possess neither the slightest grasp of the basic rules of economics nor even the faintest hint of integrity — that your entry level gig pushing buttons on a cash register at Taco Bell ought to earn you double the current federal minimum wage," said Walsh in an op-ed published in The Blaze addressing the fast-food workers.
"I want to talk to those of you who actually consider yourselves entitled to close to a $29 thousand a year full time salary for doing a job that requires no skill, no expertise, and no education; those who think a fry cook ought to earn an entry level income similar to a dental assistant; those who insist the guy putting the lettuce on my Big Mac ought to make more than the Emergency Medical Technician who saves lives for a living; those who believe you should automatically be able to 'live comfortably,' as if 'comfort' is a human right," he continued. more >>
It is tax week 2015. If you completed your tax return on time and wrote that check you'd much rather leave in your account, why not pour yourself a cup of coffee (or maybe a bottle of antacid relief) and plop yourself down in your favorite easy chair and sit a spell. You deserve it. While relaxing, why not take a minute to entertain yourself and learn how your hard-earned money was spent.
Now-retired Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) "Wastebook 2014" reports the government spent $856,000 to teach mountain lions how to run on a treadmill, $171,000 to teach monkeys how to gamble and $387,000 to give rabbits massages. It spent $331,000 to see if spouses are more likely to stab "significant other" voodoo dolls when hungry, $15,000 to attract Colorado young people to the symphony by funding the creation of "Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series." While we're on that high note, the IRS paid $4.2 billion in tax refunds to identity thieves and the Defense Department paid $1 billion to destroy $16 billion in unneeded military-grade ammunition.
"Waste Watch," a publication released by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) discovered things like $456,669 million was spent on a firing range in Afghanistan that "melted" away after it rained. Another expenditure you probably missed in 2014, was a $100 million "bailout" the State Department discretely transferred to the Afghanistan government without much explanation. An example of how cracked the system is, in 2013, the State Department paid $207,297 to Humpty Dumpty Institute to fly young Iraqi filmmakers to Los Angeles to show them how filmmaking is done, resulting in the production of an anti-American film. more >>
This column was originally published in The Des Moines Register.
On Saturday at the Iowa Agriculture Summit, I called on Washington to put American workers first.
Critics say I'm a "populist," but the truth is I'm a nationalist. I put America and its workers first. Too many in the political class put Wall Street and Washington elites first. They aren't fighting for American workers. more >>
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Certain labor unions are among the strongest opponents of comprehensive immigration reform, according to experts at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
A Thursday panel called "Immigration: Can Conservatives Reach a Consensus," panel featured U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Mario Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, and Alfonso Aguilar of the American Principles Project.
In his remarks, held at a meeting room at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Aguilar talked about the opposition unions had to certain immigration reform ideas. more >>
A temporary timeout was called this week in the on-going Greek debt tragedy. Euro-zone officials and Greek politicians agreed on Friday to a four month extension of the default deadline to give themselves more time to find a solution to the intractable problem that the Greek government owes more debt than it can pay back. This exercise in can-kicking spurred me to read the 1977 book, Democracy in Deficit, by Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan and Richard E. Wagner. I'm interested in their insights into how western democracies have gotten themselves into so much debt, and if they see a possible path out of the woods. I'm only five chapters into the book, with seven to go. But already, the authors have revealed the complete change in the mindset of western society wrought by the economic ideas of Lord Keynes.
Buchanan and Wagner describe the mindset of the public, including government officials, prior to the ascendancy of Keynesian economics. They call it the Old-Time Fiscal Religion, an appropriate description for the commonly held and faithfully adhered to principles of public finance, prior to the Keynesian revolution. As they briefly describe the old "fiscal constitution", it had three main principles.
First, frugality in public finance was considered a virtue, and profligacy was not. Calvin Coolidge was our last truly frugal President, although President Eisenhower might qualify as frugal (there were three years of budget surplus in his eight years in office) when compared to the record of Presidents since he left office. more >>