Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who's Disadvantaged?

Frequently in many domestic political issues, such as the debate over health care, we hear the poor used as an excuse for the institution of progressive political programs. Of course, when people argue against the progressive ideas, they are accused of being insensitive to the poor (that is one of the kinder accusations you are likely to hear from progressives), as if the benefit exists outside of any costs.

Even though progressives don't like to hear about costs, they still happen anyway. Whether you raise taxes, or charge fees, or come up with some clever scheme like cap-and-trade, someone has to pay for it.

One of the most politically popular ways is "soak the rich". Even when wealthy people like Warren Buffett support it, it ignores one economic reality: You are taking money away from economic investments. Economic investments create jobs. The more jobs there are, the lower the unemployment rate, and the greater leverage workers have in obtaining better salaries.

In addition, politicians tend to only soak the rich so much, because if they were to REALLY soak the rich, their campaign donations would drop. So they create oppressive tax rates on one hand, and then add in tons of deductions on the other, to effectively allow the wealthy to protect their money (as well as their future political donations).

Naturally, there is only so much the rich can be soaked. Eventually, they will move their money overseas to tax havens, or find ways around the oppressive taxation. Then the progressives have to move to the next most popular golden goose: Corporations. The only problem with this one is that the added costs to businesses have to come from somewhere. Here are the usual victims:

1. Customers. If a business can raise prices to cover their tax costs, they will. When taxes are levied on all businesses, that is usually what happens since even their competition faces the same increased costs.
2. Employees. The workers are the ones who usually face the axe for the added cost of minimum wage increases (Yes, that is a tax, since government gets it's cut of increased income) and other taxes. If a tax is oppressive enough, and the cost can't be passed along to customers, cutting the workforce is the lazy manager's solution. In addition, some companies will move operations overseas to where the labor costs are cheaper.
3. Inefficiency. Unfortunately, adding efficiency is the hardest thing for any business to do, and in many cases takes longer than the business has to accomplish it before the tax takes effect. Most businesses try to do this anyway just to increase profits, so this isn't usually a viable option.
4. Profits. This is the one progressives shoot for, but is rarely possible with ever-shrinking profit margins. In addition, this ends up hurting the shareholders of public companies, who include many pension funds and 401k funds, paid for by regular workers.
5. The business itself. In cases where none of the above are possible, sometimes the business cannot continue. That means loss of jobs, as well as job opportunities.

The next most politically popular way to acquire funds is simple, yet invisible: Print more money. This solution also has it's limits, in the form of inflation, which causes prices to go up. The voters, thanks to public education, are never smart enough to figure out that the higher prices they are paying are due to the actions of their politicians. The politicians can get away with it by blaming greedy corporations, and no one is any wiser.

Finally, the last solution is to raise taxes on ALL taxpayers. The problem with this solution is the burden it places on average Americans. How are you helping the poor by placing a greater burden on the middle class? How are you helping the poor by making more people poor?

All of these solutions have created one major unseen burden on the American people. Consider a married couple with a child or children. By taking money out of their pockets, whether directly or indirectly, the government makes it more difficult for them to support their family. Eventually, the couple faces a tough economic choice whereby BOTH parents must work, and the child/children must be relegated to daycare. With all the government regulations on daycare centers, plus the high liability insurance costs daycare centers face, daycare has become prohibitively expensive, adding yet another burden on working parents, which means even more time spent working and less time with their children.

At a time when too many parents already spend too little time with their children, we want to add to their economic burden with more government taxes? In the case of health care, we want to shift the high cost of health care from the private sector to the public sector? Economically speaking, the best case scenario is the government takes over health care and cuts costs by cutting the overall quality of health care for all Americans. That is NOT what anyone wants in the health care debate.

This leaves the alternative of shifting the "free buffet" of health care from the private sector, which limits the availability, to the public sector, which will give it away to everyone, who will proceed to take advantage of it, causing the demand to exceed the supply and raising the costs for the public sector, forcing politicians to utilize one of the means I described above in order to pay for the neverending rising health care costs.

Little Johnny can forget about seeing mommy and daddy for now. They will be busy providing health care to the poor.

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