What is the first sign of too much government? Is there a simple answer? No. Too many of us are quite willing to ignore the obvious, but we can still get close. First, however, we should consider a couple of other questions.
What empowers a citizen?
What empowers a citizen? What is a citizen? Here <= is a definition. Note that that definition just talks about rights and privileges. it says little about responsibilities. Yet what empowers us? Is it not the fact we have the capacity to be productive? If as citizens we are universally poor, of what significance are our rights and privileges? We can all starve together?
To properly exercise our rights and privileges, we must have knowledge, wisdom, and property. That is, we must be able to work productively and keep and use the fruits of our labors. Then we can exercise our right to property. Then we can educate ourselves and our children (prepare the next generation to be empowered citizens).
With a proper education, we can make intelligent and wise use of the fruits of our labors.
What empowers politicians?
What empowers politicians? In a republic a politician is a special kind of citizen. According to the definition (=> here), politicians are supposed to know something about the art of governing. Knowledge does give a politician power, but to know what to do with the power of his office, a politician must also have wisdom. Are our politicians wise?
Okay. Now that you have stopped laughing, let’s go back to our question. What empowers politicians? There are two things:
- Control over government spending. The more money a politician can spend the more power he has. That is why it is so difficult to reduce government spending. Most of us enjoy the perks of power. Politicians are no exception.
- Giving his constituents what they want (constituents consist of both donors and voters). What do we want from our politicians? Given what our leaders have been promising us, we want something for nothing. Hence most of the Federal Budget consists of Federal Giveaway Programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, freeways, school lunches, and so forth.
What is the first sign of too much government?
So now we are ready for title question. What is the first sign of too much government? It has to do with taxes and the collection of revenues. For some perspective, lets look at something called the Laffer Curve.
The curve above shows that as the tax rate (overall rate for all taxes put together) goes up, revenues go up until they reach a maximum. Then as the rate continues to climb revenue declines. Obviously, if the government is taking everything from us, that is a tax rate of 100 percent, there is soon nothing left to take. By the time we reach 100%, tax payers either starve or become slaves.
Of course, Liberal Democrats dispute the Laffer curve, but even they agree a 100% tax rate is not practical. They would rather see something that looks like this.
What percent of taxation is optimum? Are there multiple peaks? Do different types of taxes have different effects on the shape of the curve? Don’t know, but that is not the point of the Laffer curve. The point is that when tax rates are high enough raising taxes does not increase revenues. It becomes pointless and destructive.
So why is the Laffer curve significant to this post? The fact we are discussing this curve, that our nation considers this curve significant to our prosperity, unambiguously indicates we have too much government.
What does the Laffer curve allow Conservatives to do? The Laffer curve demonstrates that when tax rates are too high tax cuts will lead to an increase in revenues. Even a bonehead can see that. Therefore, in order to convince Liberal Democrats to vote for tax cuts, Conservatives point to the Laffer curve. Do Liberal Democrats listen? No.
Think about the significance of that. It is our money! In order to convince people who lead us that we should be allowed to keep more of our own money, we have even started trying to convince them that letting us keep more of our money will allow our government to harvest more money from us.
What is the purpose of our government? What does The Declaration of Independence say?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, (from here)
Is the objective of our leaders to harvest money from us or to protect our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Are we voting for politicians whose goal is to empower themselves or their fellow citizens? Do our leaders serve us, or do we serve our leaders? If we have to justify tax cuts using the Laffer curve, isn’t the answer obvious? When politicians have to be convinced that the best reason to let us keep some of our money is that they will get more of it, they consider our money their money.
- Laffer Curve Explanation (thebalance.com)
- Laffer curve (en.wikipedia.org)
- A Little Laffer Curve Reality Should Guide Republican Tax Reform (forbes.com)
- How Trickle-down Economics Works (money.howstuffworks.com)