In Jim Cook's Archive



Our state legislature here in Minnesota has given us a look into the future. Liberals introduced a proposal to increase the state tax to 11% on incomes over $166,000. That would be the highest state income tax in the country. We have a budget crisis in Minnesota because of runaway healthcare costs. A family with less than $43,000 income (after taxes) gets what amounts to free health care. For only a few bucks a month they get full coverage and dental care.

Welfare beneficiaries call my city “Moneyapolis.” They’ve moved here from all over America to get more subsidies than they were getting back home. Along with them came big increases in crime, drugs, alcoholism and dysfunctional family behavior. In Minnesota, we devote more time to worrying about our fishing limits than whether little kids should stay with parents who are prostitutes or drug dealers. This year we’re concerned if someone catches more than ten crappies or sunfish, but not at all concerned about parents who aren’t fit to raise a stray cat.

In our state you get free healthcare, free housing, food stamps, paid heating bills, aid to dependent children, welfare benefits, unemployment, and if you want to claim your nerves are bad, a thousand bucks a month from social security. It’s an attractive package that acts as a reverse incentive for those who may not want to work. After a few generations a degree of helplessness sets in that makes these poor souls unable to work or hold a job, even if they wanted to.

In our high-inflation country, where currency debasement effectively lowers wages, over time it becomes harder and harder for people to make it financially. Recessions that follow credit-driven booms raise unemployment. Nimble speculators prosper during inflation and its aftermath while most people find they are worse off. More and more people turn to social programs and subsidies. Meanwhile, new benefits are legislated into existence. This gradual process raises public spending to the point where government deficits become unmanageable. Rather than cut benefits, the liberals prefer to raise taxes.

What you subsidize, you get more of, so the spending crunch will be worse in the future. Someday a recession will break the budget and threaten social spending. So, look for higher taxes ahead. A poorly performing economy will likely put the liberals in power and, no matter what the evidence, they will never accept the fact that their social sympathy does more harm than good. They will find new and creative ways to get your money.

As for my state, should they embrace this new tax proposal, it will likely result in less tax revenue. Most wealthy people have secondary residences in Florida, which has no income tax. Many will become residents of those states to avoid the tax. Some corporations will move out of state and it will be difficult to hire top executives into a high tax environment. Most importantly, high incomes provide the seed money for new enterprises that create jobs and prosperity. High taxes are a penalty on progress. The final outcome of the liberal social agenda is poverty for all.

Finally, there is this question raised by the philosopher Ayn Rand. What is the moral right you have to someone else’s earnings? She and many others have suggested it’s an unethical process for the state to take one person’s money and give it to someone who didn’t earn it. Philosopher Frederic Bastiat wrote that a government’s morality could be judged by the answer to this question. “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.” Author Leonard Read wrote, “There is no greater dishonesty than man effecting his own private gains at the expense of others.”

There seems to be no backing up on the road to Socialism. When government spending began to replace private charity and self-sufficiency, we started down the road to national bankruptcy and financial ruin. In the coming titanic struggle between the left-wing tax boosters and those who want to hold the line, the people with the money are sure to lose. The thing about subsidies is that they also buy votes. Should the people who are subsidized, and their liberal allies, begin to call the shots in our country, it’s the end of America as we know it. No nation can flourish when the government devours the sustenance of the people to support its unproductive members and pay for programs that offer something for everyone.

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