I am the last one who needs to have his taxes raised. I am retired and on a fixed income. Although my income keeps me comfortable there is not much room for extra or emergencies. I can get extra income by working but I am limited in doing that because it affects my retirement pay after I earn a certain amount.
Paul Ryan, Republican Wisconsin representative, says that he would reduce the size of the national deficit by reducing the size of the government. But he would also reduce taxes. If he does both then the deficit likely stays the same and our other national problems just get worse. Ryan is on the short-list of possibilities for Mitt Romney’s running mate this fall.
I am four square in favor of reducing the size of our government but I have yet to hear a single politico say what that would look like, what goes and what stays. My guess is Ryan and his cohort will go after the social programs first. And that means they will go after welfare, those who wield the least power lose. Is there even a PAC for welfare?
I think congress would be better served by first fixing the law that govern the economics of the various government agencies. Fully funded oversight from the GAO is also a must. I worked within the federal government for over 30 years, and I can tell you that one of the biggest problems is how the government contracts out its work. For decades agencies have been begging for fully funded initiatives but congress almost always declines and requires annual begging from the agencies to keep its contracts funded. This is extremely wasteful. Having to justify project funding, let’s say there was a project to buy all new computers for the FAA’s air traffic control facilities, would be stretched out over 2, 3, or more budgets. Even though the need to replace the computers does not change, congress’ priorities do, and on a whim congress can decide to not fund that particular initiative at all or at a very low-level. That can cause contractors to raise their prices or remove themselves from the contract all together. Now what was a bad problem just became worse. The message here is, fully funded initiatives costs the government less in the long run.
But making government work better simply is not going to be enough. We as Americans expect a lot from our government at all levels. But as Americans we have become horribly spoiled. We are always looking for a bargain. We want a lot but we do not want to pay a lot for it. In meeting those needs of the public, however, America has incurred a debt that goes far beyond money. We have lost contact with the idea of “you get what you pay for.” Somewhere along the way Americans have lost sight of that very simple but very real concept. For many decades we have been paying for an efficiency apartment and now we are wondering why we do not live in a penthouse. When we were single the efficiency apartment was fine but now that we are a family of five we have to accept that we need more space and that space costs more, much more. There is also a debt to be paid beyond rent for living in that space and we have paid nothing towards that.
Our roads and bridges are crumbling before our eyes. Our public transportation is woefully inadequate. Our airspace control is in desperate need of modernizing. Our police and fire forces are underfunded and hence undermanned. Our military is too small. Agencies like NOAA, NASA, NIH, VA, and many others are underfunded in their research capabilities.
Right now the average American pays less than 15% to the federal government in taxes. We can afford more. We have one of the lowest tax rates of any nation in the world. We could almost double our tax rate and still be low relative to the rest of the world. I am not saying we should double our personal taxes. But in the interest of fixing our infrastructure and other governmental problems, I would personally be willing to have my taxes go up by 25%. I would prefer to keep that money for myself, of course, but I cannot be so selfish that I am not willing to pay for what I use.
Americans, next time your car hits a pot hole that you think should have been fixed a long time ago, or, you come upon a closed bridge that you think should have been repaired or replaced long ago, or next time you wonder why you next door neighbor is going to the middle east for the national guard for a third or fourth time, remember it is because you are not willing to pay enough to make things different. You get what you pay for and we are faced with that right now.