“Just a Few Cents Each” (part one)

The next two parts are direct quotes from chapter 20 of “I Hold These Truths,” which I wrote 35 years ago.  A bit dated, but I haven’t changed my mind – Don

“A long time ago, a mythical community was totally free, It had virtually no taxes, a tiny government, and most citizens prospered and were happy.

“Eventually it was observed there were some people in the community which had less than others.  They were poor.  A vote was taken to increase taxes to build housing for these poor people.  It would only add a few cents to each tax bill.  There were vigorous objections by some in the community, who warned that it was not the job of government to care for anyone, only to protect them.  The public housing issue barely passed.  It was then discovered that these poor were hungry.  Food stamps were passed out so they wouldn’t starve.  It only cost a few cents tax increase for each person.  The same people as before, strenuously objected, saying that things were getting out of hand.  Poor people had always existed, and the best remedy for hunger and homelessness, was work, pointing out the low paying jobs which were continuously advertised in the local paper, plus local charities and churches always took care of the needy.  The objectors lost again, and taxes were raised a few more cents.  It was then observed that the poor had no money to pay for doctor bills, so the voters again raised taxes, a few cents for each citizen, to pay for the poor peoples’ doctor bills.  The objectors howled that it was very profitable to be poor!  They were drowned out in the clamor which said, “Surely we can afford to care for those less fortunate than others.  It will only cost a few cents each.”

“The once tiny government had grown very large, and was constructing new buildings to administer all the benefits and collect all the taxes.  Lots of government employees were now on what became known as, “The public payroll.”

“It was soon discovered that some of the elderly were poor, because they hadn’t saved for their old age, and were profligate.  Another vote was taken to increase taxes a whopping 15%, to pay for old age care.  The same protestors objected again and again, but to no avail.  The 15% tax increase passed.  Crime, by this time, had risen appreciably, and the protestors said this was because it wasn’t necessary to care for yourself any more, or to work.  Government did it for you.  More prisons and courtrooms had to be built, and more police and prison guards hired.

“Then the farmers decided they wanted a piece of the action, and complained that they weren’t making any money.  Interest rates were too high, taxes too high, and they needed help.  By this time, no vote was needed, as government had grown so big, it did just as it wanted, and raised taxes as it pleased.   More taxes for the better off, harder working populace, and little or none for the untalented or lazy.  The farmers got their subsidies, and food prices went up.  With all the lopsided subsidies to farmers, there was too much of one kind of food, and too little of another.  Government bought what there was too much of, and set minimum prices on what there was too little of, building large storehouses and hiring more employees to store the extra foods, and decide what foods needed to be subsidized.  Government employees were by then known as ‘bureaucrats,’ and their numbers grew greatly.

“Then, government decided regulations were needed over what could be broadcast over the newly invented radio, and who was to be allowed to do the broadcasting.  Government also decided that the poor were being treated unfairly, so it made laws setting minimum wages and fair treatment.  Crime and unemployment increased, especially among the poor, who were supposed to be helped.

“The government then had to increase their subsidies, food stamps, and housing allowances. Taxes, of course, went up.  Government had become so large by this time, that people who wanted something…anything…went to the government, and usually got it.  Taxes went up again.  Government decided that it should regulate what types of signs businesses men could erect, what their buildings should contain, what they could sell, how much they could charge, and how much profit was ‘fair.’  Government then decided to tell farmers what to grow, how much they could sell it for, how many acres they could till, and what types of fertilizer and insecticide they could use.  Government then decided that it should tell landowners what they could do with their land, and hired many planners to oversea the monumental project.  All this, of course, was deemed to be for the ‘public good.’

“Government then decided some factories were not safe, and it began telling manufacturers what the sizes and shapes of their tools, products, and factories could be.  Even the stairs and bathrooms in their factories came under regulations.  Inspectors came regularly, and didn’t even have to knock to gain entrance to inspect the businesses.  Of course, bribes and payoffs were common, to avoid the harsh hand of the bureaucracy.  Government decided that more highways were needed, so taxes were raised on fuel, to build multi-lane ‘freeways,’ as they came t be called.  The road builders took whatever land they wanted, and cut through neighborhoods and parks with their superhighways.  Mass transit operators, who had rail systems and bus lines, threw up their hands and went bankrupt right and left, over the unfair competition.  Government took their properties, raised taxes again, and ran the systems at huge losses.  The air became polluted because of the freeways, but government decided the cause wasn’t the millions of cars, but the crooked businessmen who furnished the electricity.  They were forced to install ‘anti-pollution’ devices on their generating plants, but the air didn’t get any better.  The price of electricity went up to pay for        government ordered pollution devices on power plants.  It was then decided to build more freeways, so motorists wouldn’t have to sit in traffic with idling engines.  But the more freeways that were built, the more cars were bought, and the air kept getting worse and worse.

“By this time, not only was the air unbreathable, but crime was enormous, medical costs were out of range of most, interest rates were quadruple what they had been 50 years before, and life in general, was miserable.  The politicians had discovered that the less intelligent the voter, the better chance they had of keeping their plush jobs in government.  They regularly went about getting everyone they could, to register to vote, even those who couldn’t read, telling them that it was their ‘patriotic’ duty, to vote.  Nothing was more important than for everyone to vote!  ‘It doesn’t matter who you vote for, but vote,’ was the slogan.  Politicians then kept their offices and high salaries, voting for more government, and more promises for these newly registered voters.  As the number of voters increased, usually from poor or semi-literate population sectors, the quality of politician went down, until it was a commonly understood fact, that the politicians handing out the most from the government treasury, was sure to be elected.   Taxes kept going up, of course.” 

Don Stott- don@coloradogold.com