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Taxes aren’t charity (SNAP and “government interference.)

Okay, old lady rant here, from someone who once qualified for WIC, but did what we had to* to refuse it. I’m seeing complaints about a proposal to change the SNAP (food stamp) program from money/cards/vouchers for dollars to a mix of money and commodities.

Most people complain that it would be a big government boondoggle. And I’m sure it would be bloated and subject to all sorts of agendas and unintended consequences. I’m not sold on a change.

However, I’m also seeing comments that SNAP should be “supplemental,” rather than basic. That rather than interfering and deciding to only provide nutritional foods, we should trust recipients to know and meet their own needs. And kids on SNAP should be allowed the “dignity” of having Cheetos and a birthday cake.

I started this post because I have a real problem with measuring a child’s dignity by whether their parents can use some one else’s money to buy Cheetos or other junk food. (And, come on! A birthday cake is flour, sugar, milk, and eggs and time.)

Taxes aren’t charity. And I know I’ve seen abuses at the grocery store and with Medicaid in my practice.

Charity is giving someone a ride to the store or offering to shop when you go. It’s giving whatever without government force and, sometimes, when it hurts in the long run. But tell me, who among us would be happy to see even a freely given gift abused by the recipient?

SNAP, WIC, etc., are helping hands, a bridge over hard times. it’s hard work – nearly a time-consuming job – to meet the requirements to access government assistance, I know. And I know there are gaps. I’m sorry, but they shouldn’t be something that is comfortable.

*(Came within minutes of getting utilities turned off several times, nursed those babies until they could reason, baked my own bread with wheat I bought by the big bag and ground myself, joined a cheese and vegetable coop, bought in quantity and learned to store it in smaller portions, made do with one car and shared rides with neighbors, and taught my kids to eat what they were given – when their cousins lived on French fries, Dairy Queen and cookies. Eventually, I was lucky enough to enroll in the local Junior College and then on to medical school and Larry worked harder and harder. I know we’ve been lucky, but…)

De Tocqueville Moment

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.)

“Weary” wink?

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.

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