The answer to the question I asked back in July, 2011, is “yes.”
Has the United States of America reached the Moment predicted by Alex de Tocqueville when he warned that,”The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money?”
Worse, Congress has proven that “some animals are more equal than others” and that the majority – or their representatives – can take liberty and property from the minority for the benefit of the majority. (“Life” was already infringed by abortion laws.)
Forget for a moment that nearly half of the people in the US haven’t paid income taxes for years, and in fact, 1/5 don’t pay income taxes or payroll taxes, at all. (Their taxes are “negative,” meaning they get more from the Federal system than they pay.)
Most people who don’t pay taxes understand that it’s wrong to take from others, and that good ethics do not demand that other people give them stuff, no matter how much the “rich” have. Nevertheless, the Golfing President from Hawaii (not Illinois) demonizes people who “only” pay 35%-40%.
That 39.6% tax rate on “the rich” will effectively be closer to 41%, since personal deductions and itemized deductions are being phased out or eliminated for those earning more than $300,000. Add in the 3.8% “the unearned income Medicare contribution tax,” and we’re creeping toward 50%.
Welcome to Newspeak.
Grover Norquist says a vote for tax increases is a vote for permanent tax decreases. (Yes, some is better than none, but let’s be honest – the Bill is a tax increase that’s not balanced by cuts in spending.)
How about the extension of unemployment benefits for another year or, better yet, retro-active tax benefits for those who use trains, buses, trolleys or trams to go to work? $230 per month for tickets and another $240 or more per month for parking!
Another “back door tax” resulting from the Bill passed by the House and Senate over the last 2 days is a delay in tax refunds. Since many who were taxed under the Alternative Minimum Tax won’t know their real tax rate for 2012 until mid- February or so, they can’t file and can’t get their money back from the IRS.
The only thing sure in life is death and taxes. The difference is that “We the People” can avoid taxes by making sure our Republic is sound and avoid the errors that the founding fathers and de Tocqueville (and I) warned us about.
Unfortunately, our Nation has decided – whether by default or not – that a group of nine appointed Justices are not only the “highest court in the land,” they are the highest LAW in the land. And so, we find ourselves at the mercy of the whims – and sometimes the least consistent – of these justices
I’ve been scanning the transcript from the Tuesday, March 27, 2012 debate before the Supreme Court, which is available at the SCOTUS website.
A question by Justice Alito :
“All right, suppose that you and I walked around downtown Washington at lunch hour and we found a couple of healthy young people and we stopped them and we said, “You know what you’re doing? You are financing your burial services right now because eventually you’re going to die, and somebody is going to have to pay for it, and if you don’t have burial insurance and you haven’t saved money for it, you’re going to shift the cost to somebody else.”
“Isn’t that a very artificial way of talking about what somebody is doing?”
“But the reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don’t have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that’s generally the rule.
“And here the government is saying that the Federal Government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.”
Hear and read the passage, at Real Clear Politics.
Erickson points out that the media are changing the meme of the debate from whether the law is Constitutional to a rant that the Conservatives on the Court are bullying the rest. The Houston Chronicle joins the chorus and proves Erick’s point.
To think that I almost posted this without adding the Category “Media Abuse.”
I sometimes forget that libertarianism is one step away from anarchy, and that anarchy is one step away from nihilism. But a nice little online chat with objectivist (Ron Paul supporter) will remind me almost every time. On the same page blaming “Zionists” and a couple of posts past reminding me that Ayn Rand should be my conscience, I am told that we are due for an “upheaval” resulting in war or a dictator, and that America is a failed state.
America is not a failed state. We are a Nation of individuals with infinite possibilities. I do believe that necessity is the mother of invention and that a free United States will continually prove that.
The nihilist asks what good is there in defeating an enemy? It’s a whole lot better than losing and history shows that if you don’t win, you risk losing both the war and your soul. We saw Chamberlain give up Czechoslovakia for “peace in our time” and Vichy France betray not only the French, but the Jews. And then, we saw Churchill resolve never, never, never to give in and even Truman and his decision to end the war with Japan by dropping nuclear bombs. I’ll stand with the latter two men.
I’ve posted a couple of blog pieces wondering whether we are at the “de Tocqueville moment,” that point in a democratic state when the majority takes from the minority that de Tocqueville warned us about. I don’t believe we are. What it comes down to is that this time, the individuals who understand history and inalienable rights are outside the gates, fighting to get in, rather than the barbarians.
Here’s a fitting quote from Sir Winston: ““Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.””
Edited for spelling, added categories, 3/28/12 BBN
Last Friday, I was asked by the editors of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, to write the “Counter-Point” to an essay by the Comal County Democratic Party chair (behind a pay-wall, here.) At the time, I didn’t know who the author was and only had a portion of the original to read, but the major points were that the debt ceiling debate was only meant to be used against President Obama and all due to “past policies.” Here’s my answer, along with the title given it by the H-Z:
“The Public Is Being Bribed”
Yes, the current problems with the United States’ budget are due to errors of the past, including those of the current Administration. However, the first author’s basic philosophy is wrong.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville observed, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
Last year, nearly half of the people in the United States didn’t pay income taxes. The top 50% paid 96% of the income tax revenues. The top 5% (those earning over $160,000) paid 55% of all income taxes, although they earned 33% of the gross income.
Congress and Federal bureaucracies have expanded the budget and the reach of government regulations. They heaped “ObamaCare”, on top of the “Stimulus,” on top of TARP bailouts, on top of earlier spending that made Conservatives angry enough to stay home in 2006 and 2008. The American voters didn’t like spending in November, 2010 and we don’t like it now.
Ronald Reagan convinced the Democrat-controlled Congress to cut tax rates along with tax deductions and loopholes, increasing Federal revenue. However, promised cuts in spending never materialized and the National debt exceeded $2 Trillion dollars in 1988. In 1995, Bill Clinton forced two government shut-downs, but the Republican House and Senate persisted until he signed balanced budgets four years in a row.
Unfortunately, since 2001 both Parties have increased non-defense spending in addition to recovery from September 11, 2001, the war on the Afghanistan and Iraqi fronts, and the near-failure of the banking system in 2008. Attempts to decrease the rate of growth for non-essentials and bureaucracies were knocked down by histrionics from special interests and the media, even as new layers of tax credits and deductions were added, until half the country pays no taxes.
America was built on the dream that every child could grow up to be President or start a billion dollar business in the garage like the Wright brothers, Henry Ford and Bill Gates. I don’t remember hearing that if I worked hard, I could grow up to be middle class.
We Americans have a tradition of giving back, lending a hand up, and rescuing the helpless. Bloated Government bureaucracies divide families and force PC “separation of Church and State.” They’re poor substitutes for Churches and private charities that we choose as stewards for our duty to the less fortunate.
Yes, it’s important to think for ourselves and research the truth behind the latest controversies. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the people I know. However, we can learn from history. De Tocqueville also predicted, “”A democracy . . . can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Edited for spelling 3/28/2012 BBN
Has the United States of America reached the Moment predicted by Alex de Tocqueville when,”The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money?”
Congress and the DC bureaucracies have expanded the federal government, increased regulations and permits, heaped ObamaCare —>on top of “Stimulus” —> on top of TARP and all of this —> on top of the other spending that made Conservatives angry enough to stay home in 2006 and 2008 is not the answer. We didn’t like it in November, 2010 and we don’t like it now!
Edited for spelling 3/28/2012 BBN
President Obama has declared that he will veto the Cut, Cap,and Balance Bill if it passes. The White House is calling the Bill “extreme, radical, and unprecedented” and ” the Ryan plan on steroids.” I’m hoping the Republicans in Washington remember who their base is and count his threat as a dare – and call his bluff.
Cut spending first, show a good faith effort, then we”ll talk. President Obama needs to bite the bullet, eat his own peas, and decide that if he wants to cut the deficit and cut debt, some – in the form of savings from cutting unnecessary spending – is better than none.
What Congress and the bureaucracies in DC have done by expanding the federal governments, increasing regulations, permits, heaping ObamaCare on top of the “Stimulus” on top of TARP and all of this on the other spending that made Conservatives angry enough to stay home in 2006 and 2008 is not the answer. We didn’t like it in November, 2010 and we don’t like it now.
I remember that the tax code was simplified when Ronald Reagan cut the tax rates in the 80’s. The Democrat controlled Congress promised cuts in spending to go along with the lost deductions. Those cuts never materialized and federal spending grew even faster than the remarkable Federal revenue.
more and more people became beneficiaries of Federal largess.
It’s gotten to the point that more than half of people in the U.S. fell right off the tax rolls.
Has the United States of America reached the Alex de Tocqueville moment when,”The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money?” What’s your price?
Edited for spelling 3/28/2012 BBN