Rushville Republican

October 9, 2012

Are lower taxes always good? Maybe not

Dear Editor:

Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — The incessant cry from both sides of the political spectrum is for lower taxes. The demand originates on the right and then, perforce, must be echoed in some form by those on the left in order for them to have any hope of being elected (or re-elected).

These cries for lower taxes are generally aimed at those imposed by the federal government, rather than by local or state entities.

Numerous studies declare that actual federal taxes are at the lowest level of many decades.

Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman’s presidency (1945-1953), a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

If we are to accept that report as being correct, it indicates that taxes (federal) are the lowest they have been in some 60 years.

All those people railing about “high taxes” apparently give no consideration to the reality that we require highways, bridges and other basic infrastructure; the armed forces; schools; courts; and social benefits; not to mention spies and other not-so-obvious uses of tax revenues.

The subject of taxes is an enormous one, and a brief letter such as this can only generalize; perhaps hit a couple of high spots.

Taxes are always a sore and touchy subject. I imagine when Joseph and his family journeyed to Bethlehem, Joe and his fellow citizens spent some time griping about having to pay high taxes. Some things never change.

Some readers may exclaim, “But Norm, you’re retired and don’t pay taxes.” Wrong. I still pay a considerable amount of taxes, local, state and federal, including paying taxes on most of my Social Security income. Obviously, since my income is low, my taxes are also relatively low; conversely, and particularly in my last decade of work, my income was rather high and so were my taxes--even more so since Marilyn and I no longer had a mortgage and that nice deduction. (It is a sad fact of timing that we both paid high mortgage interest for years, then when we were able to stop doing that and anticipated a reasonable interest return on savings, that balloon had popped.)

The big problem with taxes is not taxes at all--it’s government waste. If more lard is cut from the budget, less tax revenue is needed; however, the term obese America as accurately applied to a large (pun intended) segment of the American population, also applies to government expenditures.

Consider Congress--every Senator and Representative wants to cut expenditures--except in his or her own district, where the pork barrel is always open for more of that free gummint money. Politicians love pork and must constantly seek more of it if they wish to be re-elected.

All parties need to heed this: No nation, no government can long succeed or continue to exist without sufficient tax revenue to cover the costs of running the country (note our ongoing deficit trauma). Here are the cold facts:

1. Taxes need to be increased at all income levels; even those on the bottom end of the income scale need to pay at least a token amount, just so they will feel they are participating and responsible citizens.

2. Government waste needs to be reduced, with probably the most likely and immediately beneficial action being the avoidance of intrusive and nonwinnable wars around the globe.

Can those two objectives be realized?

Best regards,

Norm Voiles

Resident of Rush County; native of Decatur County