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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 483 - Tax Freedom Day
Americans Work Until Close To May Just To Pay Their Taxes-
It's getting to be that time of year, when Americans push up to the deadline to file their taxes. Many Americans, of course, have had their taxes withheld throughout the year and will receive a refund, plus their part of this year's stimulus package. Tax time is almost like free money, to a lot of people. They don't feel the impact of taxes the same way they feel the impact of filling up at the pump or buying milk.
That's why Tax Freedom Day is so important. It puts taxes into perspective.
Ironically, tax time coincides with "Tax Freedom Day," the day on which Americans stop working for the government and begin working for themselves. This year, it's April 23 nationally, but it varies slightly from state to state:
It is a troubling figure. We won't change this substantially until we can do something about spending. Pork barrel spending is obviously a target-rich environment, as is the military (according to Ron Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, we should have used the money spent in Iraq on health care and bridges and so forth back here), but Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are the biggest culprits. That being said, incremental spending on this, that, and the other does add up. After all, a million dollars here, there, and everywhere starts to seem like real money.
The era of small government, sadly, seems to have left the national zeitgeist before it ever fully arrived. From a rhetorical standpoint, small government had a great quarter century. In reality, shrinking the size and scope of government was far more difficult. I think I am beginning to understand why.
In a recent GOP precinct meeting on election day last month here in Texas, a woman brought a resolution urging our elected officials to stop doling out public funds (right now, 336 million dollars per year) to Planned Parenthood. Astonishingly, the precinct meeting attendees voted against this measure by a narrow margin. I can understand being socially moderate, but I was amazed that whatever fiscally conservative instincts the group members had didn't kick in and guide their decisions. I didn't even think to speak in favor of it, just assuming it would pass easily.
But it didn't pass. In a room full of Republicans.
It's hard to be optimistic about paring down government spending with these sorts of anecdotes, one after another, piling onto the multi-trillion dollar public expenditure heap. Even fiscal conservatives have their pet projects that they feel deserve funding. Sometimes socially moderate or liberal impulses may trump fiscally conservative ones: see all the so-called libertarians who support large infusions of tax dollars into embryonic stem cell research and other trendy government projects.
Meanwhile, entitlements quietly grow on auto-pilot, with occasional politically-driven funding injections, outpacing all other government spending combined.
In the past, we've been able to-- sort of-- grow our way out of our government spending messes. Eventually, though, government spending undermines the very economic growth it depends on, and because it is so difficult to trim government, government tends to trim more from its citizens' paychecks instead.
Elections have consequences, and the harmful trends headed our way are not inevitable. I hope people think about the tax burden-- present and future-- in this country when they vote this November.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Regulation.
Posted by Will Franklin · 2 April 2008 08:48 AM