• News

Tax cut quandry

My more entrepreneurial friends shout that the Bush tax cuts must be extended so that business owners will feel comfortable enough to expand and hire! My more socially progressive friends shout that only the tax cuts for the rich should sunset on Dec 31 since they are less likely to spend money (they're already rich) while those on the poor should be extended because we're in a bad economy and the poor are on shaky footing. My fiscally conservative friends either shout that all the tax cuts should end immediately because we can't afford to contribute any more to the debt or that they should be extended because ending them will send the country into a deeper recession. What a mess. The decision about what to do about Bush's tax cuts will probably be made purely on a political basis (ie: do whatever has the most likely chance of getting me re-elected, whoever the "me" happens to be at every level), but if I had anything to say about it (which I do!) this is my take:

During World War II there was a real and palpable feeling that losing the war might mean the end of America as we knew it. The eastern cities had "blackouts" where all lights had to be extinguished or shades drawn for fear of attack by sea and any lights on shore might make us easier to target. There were "metal drives" where your old pots and pans were donated to the cause and melted down into armaments. There were shortages of things like rubber for tires (my grandfather actually had to buy a new car because it came with four good tires - well, at least thats what he told my grandmother). There was a general spirit of sacrifice for the good of the country and young men and women joined the ranks to serve in many and varied capacities because NOT doing so, sitting back and doing nothing to help, might make them complicit in whatever disaster was forthcoming. At the time, disaster looked pretty inevitable. Fast forward to today - we have an all-volunteer military which has been deployed and re-deployed beyond the point that most military leaders would advise. We have spent over 1,113,237,943,273 dollars fighting at least one unnecessary war (I have to admit that I at least initially supported the one in Afghanistan).

The United States was a new nation, founded on different principles than all other nations then existing. Because its objectives were peace and prosperity, not conquest and domination, it should therefore avoid involvement with other nations that could only deter it from those peaceful pursuits. -Thomas Jefferson

The war has been an expenditure of enormous proportion, but it is still far less than the amount of revenue lost by the Bush tax cuts.

You can't scream and yell about debt and deficits on the one hand, and then demand that nobody should pay for them on the other. Wars cost money, public services cost money. Our quasi-socialist system requires funding. Yes I just called the US a quasi-socialist system: think free public education, highways, police departments, fire departments, hospital emergency rooms, national labs, garbage dumps, waste water treatment, bridges, subways, prisons, to say nothing of the big entitlement programs like welfare and social security which everyone is always railing about... Unless you'd like to end some of these programs, including the wars, then I suggest that we all develop a more palpable spirit of personal sacrifice and pony up the Benjamins to pay for some of it. The folks who want to extend the tax cuts should let us all know which programs will be curtailed first. I won't hold my breath waiting for an enumeration since its political suicide - their argument will probably be that we don't need to pay for the tax cuts at all. Well, somebody is going to have to pay our debts - lets just hope it isn't China - they have a pretty large population and I'd hate to think that we're just being set up to get evicted by the new landlord.