Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

Author: Rory B. Bellows

Now I know how Ben Stein felt in that famous scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when no one would respond to his inquiries into Ferris Bueller’s whereabouts. When Ben Stein discusses the issue of taxes, no one is home. In an op-ed piece in Saturday’s New York Times, Stein expresses his dismay about John McCain hewing to Republican orthodoxy on the matter of taxes. While it is certainly up in the air if John McCain is a die hard supply-sider, the smart bet is no, he is promising to extend the Bush tax cuts. All of the Bush tax cuts.

Ben Stein comes from a different era of Republicanism. Before Ronald Reagan, Republicans viewed a balanced budget as the be all, end all of government policy. While a balanced budget is important, the manner in which it is achieved is even more so. If a balanced budget could only be achieved by raising taxes then so be it.

While the idea of government spending no more than it takes in is admirable and should be the goal of any administration, the amount government takes in is the issue. Buying into the belief that balancing the budget is the most important goal of government and that raising taxes is necessary to do so, one must accept several flawed assumptions. Accepting that balancing the budget through tax increases is good public policy, one must accept that the money people make is not theirs but the government’s. People can do with less because their paycheck is not really the product of their labor, but an allowance that government decides they get. That view is akin to saying government is king and the people are nothing but serfs. When the King wants more he says “Give me.” In reality, that is exactly what government does. Government is best defined as force. It uses coercive force to get what it wants. If you do not believe me, try not paying your taxes for a few years and see what happens.

A balanced budget is important. But what is more important is the philosophy that is behind it. Any individual who spent more than they earned would be forced to cut spending until revenues were in line with expenses. For some reason we do not believe that simple line of thinking applies to government. It’s offensive to me that pundits and politicians often ask the American public to make sacrifices and to do without so Government can maintain its bloated, oppressive and failed bureaucracies and programs. It’s high time someone asked the government to make sacrifices because after all, it supposedly works for us, we do not work for it.

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