Your Money

January 27th, 2011

Inspired by Cutting federal workforce also means cutting taxpayer services (Washington Post 1/25/11).

“The people of America have been overcharged, and, on their behalf, I’m here asking for a refund.” – George Bush

Republicans like to intone the mantra “it’s your money” when talking about taxes. But the taxes we pay to the federal, state, and local governments are no more “our money” because we pay them than the salary your employer pays you is their money.

“Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.” – Russell B. Long

You do a job. Your employer pays you for that job. Whose money is that? Is it your employer’s money, or yours?

“Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” —  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Technically, until you do the work, it’s your employer’s money. And as an at-will employee (which most Americans are), your employer can indeed fire you at any time for any reason (or no reason at all), or reduce your salary if they want to. So technically, your employer has the right to cut your salary by 25% and still demand that you work the same hours and do the same job.

“US taxes are among the lowest in the developed world,
But still the GOP marches on, it’s anti-tax banners unfurled.” — My Worst Video

That’s what the Bush tax cuts did. They cut the federal government’s “salary,” while making no corresponding cuts in its work load. In fact, they dramatically increased the government’s work load with giant additional responsibilities (Afghanistan, Iraq, Medicare Part D), none of which were paid for.

“At best, the government worker is overpaid and lazy
(Or in the case of postal workers, crazy).
At worst, he or she is domineering,
A tyrant actively with your individual rights interfering.
That, anyway, is what Republicans want you to believe
In order to help them their anti-government goals achieve.” — Not Faceless

Our federal, state, and local governments are our employees. They provide public services, in return for which we pay taxes.

“When Repubicans ‘punish’ government, it’s the American people who suffer.
Times are already tough. Should we make them tougher?
So please redirect your discontent
Because we ourselves are the government.” — It’s Us

The Bush Administration did not even pretend to cut the level of service the government provides. The new G-O-Tea claims they want to do that, and appears to be trying. But their efforts so far don’t even come close to balancing the budget.

“The Party of No is joyful when it any government spending stops,
But those lost jobs were firefighters, road crews, teachers, and cops.
They’re people who perform a crucial function,
Yet the Party of No writes them off without any compunction.”
It’s the Economy, Stupid

Yes, an employer has the right to cut wages and benefits for its at-will employees—after all, it is “their” money. But is that necessarily a good idea?

“It was people stacked on top of people. I’m thinking, somebody has to pay all these folks to be here… And it’s all paid by us. That’s U.S. taxpayer dollars.” – newly elected PA Republican Mike Kelly

Maybe you do (if you’re a Republican), if what you’re really trying to do is get that employee to quit so you can eliminate his/her low/no priority job, although the more honest approach would be to just fire that employee. Or maybe you do, if that employee is in fact overpaid. But if the job that empoyee is doing is a crucial one (cop, firefighter, teacher, safety inspector, etc.) and if the salary level is what’s needed to attract and retain the necessary talent, then cutting that salary is just shooting yourself in the foot.

“You get what you pay for.” – old saying

Yes, it’s your money, in a way. But it’s also your government, working for you.

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One Response to “Your Money”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Taxed? Enough Already Says:

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