Politicians are masters at distracting people to draw attention away from the real issues, especially when it comes to taxes and budgets.
Much of the debate lately seems to center around conflicts between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals.
What we should really be doing is following the money.
It seems to me that both parties have done their fair share of fleecing the taxpayers.
They use different words to try to confuse us, but the results aren’t that much different.
If, by some miracle, a taxpayer gets his hands on $100, it doesn’t matter if he has to pay 20 percent in taxes or a $20 user fee. At the end of the day, he still has only $80 left, regardless of which technique was used to pick his pocket.
Whether he was the victim of a tax or a fee, the money is just as gone.
Among the current proposals that the folks in St. Paul have come up with are increases to tobacco and liquor taxes.
I am a non-smoker these days, so I guess I am going to have to drink more if I want to help the state balance its budget.
This ought to work out OK, since every time I hear what the politicians are up to, drinking more is exactly what I want to do.
Some might say there is funny business afoot here.
The politicians appease the anti-fun lobby by condemning smoking and drinking.
At the same time, they try to balance their budgets by jacking up the taxes on these same activities.
If all of the smokers and drinkers were to pack up and move to Wisconsin, it would take the mother of all tax increases to make up the lost revenue.
Maybe the politicians would have to start taxing holy water and communion wafers to help fill the coffers.
They need to tax something to support their out-of-control spending, and if it isn’t booze and tobacco, it will be something else.
I suspect a lot of people are tired of the government trying to control behavior through taxes.
Despite appearances, the politicians are clever. They know that the drinkers are busy trying to drown their sorrows every time they hear more bad news about the economy, and are therefore too distracted to fight back.
The smokers are completely cut off from the discussion, because they aren’t allowed indoors anymore. We just ask them to keep passing their money in through the flap in the door.
What we need from our elected representatives is for them to behave the way they expect us to behave.
In these tough economic times, taxpayers have had to find ways to live within their means, to do more with less, and to prioritize their expenditures, eliminating those things that are not effective or essential.
It is time for our fearless leaders to do the same.
Citizens look at their income and adjust their spending to live within their means.
Government, on the other hand, spends money like an intoxicated seaman, and then tries to create revenue to pay for it.
The state’s projected $4.6 billion deficit makes one wonder if our legislators are capable of fiscal responsibility.
The fact that some of the new proposals being kicked around in St. Paul include $1.5 billion to $2 billion in new revenue suggest that some of these elected officials are completely out of touch with working Minnesotans.
Many of us are struggling to get by as it is, and instead of cutting spending, they want to spend more.
Every dollar we earn is being eroded by the increasing cost of health care, groceries, and other necessities.
Many of us have had our wages frozen, and others have had hours cut or have lost their jobs altogether.
We have to balance our household budgets while our spendable income continues to decrease.
The best answer the politicians can come up with is to ask us to hand over more of our dough.
Don’t be fooled when they start talking about “temporary” tax increases that they promise will expire in a few years.
Once a politician gets his hands on our money, he is like a rottweiler with a T-bone steak; he isn’t going to give it up.
Taxes work on the same principle as gas prices. They increase steadily over time.
Legislators try to distract us. They do this by making temporary reductions, or by giving us a small token of our own money back and calling it a “rebate,” or something like that.
Unfortunately, taxes always go up faster and further than they go down.
If our legislators are serious about implementing radical new ideas, they can start by spending less of our money.
That is the kind of bold and innovative thinking that would make a difference for working people.
For us, taxes mean real money, not Monopoly money. This is not a game, and it is time for politicians to understand that.