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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 01/18/2011

Hasn't suffered enough

By Tom Toles

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Yes, we can all get along
Last Friday when I made a case for empiricism over ideology in American politics, Paul Krugman was saying it's not possible because the ideological divide about the proper role of government is too fundamental. That the right now believes that any government effort to move resources around "amounts to theft." Here's why he's wrong.

He sums up the situation: "Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it." But this actually proves the opposite. Sure, there is a core of ideologues who think taxation is theft per se, but they are a tiny minority and always will be. Other conservative-leaning Americans have flocked under their banner for tactical, not ideological reasons. Americans have already shown, by his very example, that they are VERY willing to use the government to collect and deploy resources, AS LONG AS THEY FEEL IT'S BEING DONE EFFICIENTLY AND FAIRLY, to them at least. That is the hard nub of the whole problem, and, yes, there are some not-so-nice attitudes involved, but it has all gotten mixed up with a lot of hysterical absolutist rhetoric. Even so, the knot can be untangled. Make progress there, and watch attitudes change.

Americans, unfortunately, are possibly even MORE allergic to empiricism than taxes, but, what the hell, I'm pretty sure it's not unconstitutional. --Tom Toles
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By Tom Toles  | January 18, 2011; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health care  
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Comments

We hear a lot about how the best way to run a national economy is the same as the best way to run a family economy: "Don't spend more than you earn and, in fact, try to save a little bit each week into the bargain for a vacation at least once a year and don't borrow in order to be able to spend unless and until you have exhausted every other source of income. Oh, and don't get sick."

Advice that each of us should practice.

Posted by: jonroesler | January 20, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

~~~Perhaps Science daly??. : )

Maybe Consensus bert ; )
Posted by: dalyplanet ~~

Touché daly

Posted by: bertzel | January 18, 2011 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles wrote, "Americans have already shown, ..., that they are VERY willing to use the government to collect and deploy resources, AS LONG AS THEY FEEL IT'S BEING DONE EFFICIENTLY AND FAIRLY,..."
But taking money from people who have earned it and giving it away to people who have not earned it is not being fair.

Posted by: DirtFarmer1 | January 18, 2011 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Science daly??. : )

Maybe Consensus bert ; )

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 18, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

in the past I have posted a link (my bad)

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 18, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

jhnnywalkr

I have posted a link to a site with a complete analysis of past and current fed tax distributions. The bottom 40% (lower two quintiles pay no fed income tax and many get a transfer of money to them in the form of a tax credit. Fo example I have income that varies and one year my rebate was 2500 more than I pair into the fed. That was my first awareness of this sort of thing going on. A 2500 welfare check for me. Child credits or something

Everyone pays a fed gas tax so finely parsing they pay some fed tax if you drive. I will dig for the link if you would like it, so let me know because I am not going to find it if youare not interested.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 18, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

The Republican lie and spin machine has done their best to placate the health insurance companies. They have been driving rates up 3 times the rate of inflation, and it has been going on for twenty years or more. As an insurance agent, I have personally seen the heartache and enormous costs that families have had to endure due to unforseen accidents or illnesses.

My wife are both denied insurance coverage due to prexisting conditions, and as an insurance agent I highly resent it. Both of our conditions are under control through medication, but that makes no difference to the health companies. I could sell my agency, and my wife could sell her accounting practice, and go work for someone else that offers coverage under their group plan, but that's not really feasible in this economy.

Or we could sell and move to Canada or Ireland, where I lived in my twenties, and be covered, But we're Americans, and I choose to live in my country. The only problem with the health care reform passed, is it didn't go far enough.

When the dust settles on this debate, whatever the outcome, it will become apparant that a lot more needs to be done on health care reform in this country, or this country will be bankrupt.

Posted by: COLEBRACKETT | January 18, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm always a bit amazed in here by the "fear of big government" theme that comes up a lot, and is echoed in the whole "Obamacare" paranoia. If you were to guess how many federal government employees there are today versus, say 40 years ago, what would you say? The answer is that it's been fairly constant...around 3 million, since the mid 60s. Pretty interesting when you consider we've added tens of millions to our population since then.

http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=228

From the graph, it looks like local government is what you should really be fearing. Better start talking to your local neighbors to see which of them needs to go...EMT, judge, social worker, school teacher, snowplow driver, cop, firefighter, clerk of courts, sheriff, city council member, bridge maintenance worker, prison guard, parks director, water treatment plant operator, city forester, county commissioner, etc. They appear to be the biggest, most evil, tax-payer-funded force in the nation!

Honestly, something I'd like a little more attention focused on is the series of articles in the Wash Post a few months back about the growth of private contractors, especially in the homeland security arena. We seem to have FAR more of those then we need, and no one seems to know just how many. These entities are less accountable, more nebulous and get paid a WHOLE lot more tax dollars than your average federal employee. This business of being so scared of the rest of the world that we create a shadow government within our government, is a little unnerving.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | January 18, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

What I cannot understand is why the same level of socialism that Americans accepted as normal is the 40s and 50s is now viewed by Conservatives as unacceptable. They accuse us liberals of being more liberal than our parents and grandparents, but that is completely untrue. They are the ones who keep moving the goal posts ever further Rightward.

The Constitution says nothing about the issues that divide us today. The Founding Fathers were happy to receive all the immigrants who wanted to move here, for example. Health Insurance was unknown in 1787.

Posted by: samsara15 | January 18, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

My tax grievance is more property driven than payroll...
Yes I pay for education, fire, police, road,etc.
Don't mind that. What I do mind is when my property is assessed at a very high level compared to it's market price. That irks me. Also I have property without representation....that too bothers me.

Posted by: bertzel

I think that's a valid complaint, the assessment one. I don't know what the representation one means exactly--DC resident?)

Personally, I'm not against tax reform and "simplifying" things. What I don't believe in is single-bullet solutions to problems that come with big promises of "do this one simple thing and everything works out great!" and I also don't believe the canard of there being a lot of people "not paying any taxes" should be allowed to be brought up unchallenged in a serious discussion on the subject.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | January 18, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

PrarieDog60
DailyPlanet

Thank you for your encouraging words.

Others:

You have to have a requirement for health insurance if you are going to accept pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, people would wait until they are sick to join. Also, since we are obligated to treat the sick regardless of their coverage in the expensive ER, it costs the rest of us to carry them. Requiring coverage makes sense.

Posted by: insightinc | January 18, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

AND...I am keeping my comments concerning the healthcare bill to myself because I don't know ALL that is involved with it.
Can't make a judgement call on something I'm not knowlegdeable about. Yes, I know a FEW good points and a COUPLE of bad. That's about it tho and that is one huge pile of pages of I don't know in between.

Posted by: bertzel | January 18, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

And for the record...I don't find personal tax forms to be all the difficult to fill out...just have to keep up with the constant changes. I think people feel intimidated by the process just because it is the IRS they are dealing with.

Posted by: bertzel | January 18, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Tom, could you please corroborate today's words with a cartoon? I'm having a visualization problem.

Posted by: sherm1 | January 18, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

My tax grievance is more property driven than payroll...
Yes I pay for education, fire, police, road,etc.
Don't mind that. What I do mind is when my property is assessed at a very high level compared to it's market price. That irks me. Also I have property without representation....that too bothers me.

Posted by: bertzel | January 18, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Efficiency and fairness in government??

Excluding our military, can someone please point out what the hell our government does efficiently? The Nazis were probably the most "efficient" to my recollection.

Posted by: Timanddori | January 18, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Interesting how naysayers have little reasoning to offer.

Posted by: GeneTouchet | January 18, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

You are absolutely correct! We also need this tax to encompass EVERY American in the US. No more do 50% of Americans get a free pass. Everybody should have skin in the game and be a part of paying for America's bills. No more free passes. If you make a $1000 annually...then you pay $150 in taxes...no more free passes.

Posted by: steelers01

If you don't count the fact that 1/3 of the ordinary worker's pay is taken from them before they even see it, then yes, they pay "no taxes."

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | January 18, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

A simplified tax code will be way easier to enforce, so we’ll need fewer employees at the IRS.

Individuals and businesses would be able to easily complete and file their taxes and money spent on tax compliance could be spent on real productivity
-----------------
You are absolutely correct! We also need this tax to encompass EVERY American in the US. No more do 50% of Americans get a free pass. Everybody should have skin in the game and be a part of paying for America's bills. No more free passes. If you make a $1000 annually...then you pay $150 in taxes...no more free passes.

Posted by: steelers01 | January 18, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

insightinc,

The "big push" is turning into more of a trickle. Now that the election is done and the constant blather from corporate dollars funding the "repeal Obamacare" ads day in and day out, has slowed a bit, you'll see that polls show much less support for repeal of the act.

You're right...the more people learn about what this act actually does (rather than the "death panel" and "government takeover" nonsense), the more they are realizing it's a good first step and a good thing for America. Try not to pay too close attention to some of the commentors in here. They sometimes struggle with reality and facts.
----------------
the only one struggling with reality is YOU! This pig of a bill will be repealed and all libs will be replaced in 2012. I am hoping beyond hope that every liberal fights tooth and nail for this pig.....it will make the next election cycle look just like the last one.

Posted by: steelers01 | January 18, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

~~Any suggestions on how that Knot can be untangled?

Posted by: bertzel

Politics and Religion Bert? ;)

Posted by: dalyplanet |~~~

Perhaps Science daly?? :)

Posted by: bertzel | January 18, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

To untie the knot:

If you wish to divide a piece of cake between two children, have each child cut the other child's piece. If you do this a few times while alternating who begins, the division will become absolutely fair.

The real trick will be limiting the effect of lobbyists and plutocrat contributors on gumming up the process.

Posted by: DougMUSN | January 18, 2011 6:12 AM | Report abuse

insightinc

I believe it is because there are serious legitimate concerns that cost will not go down. Plus there is that little thing requiring compulsory enrollment in a plan that may exceed governments allowable reach into our lives. No worries though, the current plan to repeal is largely symbolic as it will not clear the senate or the president soon. Only names will be taken.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 17, 2011 11:57 PM | Report abuse

insightinc,

The "big push" is turning into more of a trickle. Now that the election is done and the constant blather from corporate dollars funding the "repeal Obamacare" ads day in and day out, has slowed a bit, you'll see that polls show much less support for repeal of the act.

You're right...the more people learn about what this act actually does (rather than the "death panel" and "government takeover" nonsense), the more they are realizing it's a good first step and a good thing for America. Try not to pay too close attention to some of the commentors in here. They sometimes struggle with reality and facts.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | January 17, 2011 11:55 PM | Report abuse

I must be missing something here. 30 million more people will have healthcare and costs will go down because of "Obamacare," yet there is a big push to repeal it. My college-age son can get medical coverage through his parents a little longer, and as a divorced woman, I could actually get the coverage I lost when the marriage ended. Furthermore, having suffered serious injuries in a car accident, I won't have every possible medical event excluded. How can this be a bad thing for America? HOW?

Posted by: insightinc | January 17, 2011 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Any suggestions on how that Knot can be untangled?

Posted by: bertzel

Politics and Religion Bert? ;)

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 17, 2011 11:13 PM | Report abuse

~~ Americans have already shown, by his very example, that they are VERY willing to use the government to collect and deploy resources, AS LONG AS THEY FEEL IT'S BEING DONE EFFICIENTLY AND FAIRLY, to them at least. That is the hard nub of the whole problem, and, yes, there are some not-so-nice attitudes involved, but it has all gotten mixed up with a lot of hysterical absolutist rhetoric. Even so, the knot can be untangled. Make progress there, and watch attitudes change.~~~Toles


Any suggestions on how that Knot can be untangled?

Posted by: bertzel | January 17, 2011 8:42 PM | Report abuse


We may soon have a real debate about eliminating all tax deductions for individuals and businesses and move towards a tax code based on current effective tax rates.

Corporations and individuals spend billions annually on complying with our current tax code. Tens of thousands of accountants and tax attorneys depend on the complexity of the tax code to make a living…(and they say government can’t create a single job!!!)

A simplified tax code will be way easier to enforce, so we’ll need fewer employees at the IRS.

Individuals and businesses would be able to easily complete and file their taxes and money spent on tax compliance could be spent on real productivity.

Posted by: EarlyBird1 | January 17, 2011 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Nursemaid Republicans will be defeated next election if they sit next to Democrats to sooth the leftist press.

Posted by: billybeer6 | January 17, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

the guy in bed survived the Obamacare death panel..he must be connected.. either a long time Democrat doner or big time union dude

Posted by: jornolibist | January 17, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

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