Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 65
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for October 19, 2000

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

The biggest subject of discussion in political ads, debates and discussions is what the politicians want to do with our money. Candidates for federal office talk about “how to spend the budget surplus,” arguing over the best mix of new programs, new entitlements and tax cuts, each designed to buy them votes next month. They both ignore the truth – THERE IS NO SURPLUS.

The general fund (defense, welfare, entitlements, bureaucracy, etc.) deficit is being papered over by the excess of receipts over payments from Social Security. The government has always used and continues to plan to use the Social Security surplus to spend on general revenue. The so-called Social Security trust fund gets non-marketable government securities. Where’s the scam? At some point in the future, there will be no Social Security surplus as the ratio of workers to retirees changes. Then, they’ll have to raise the retirement age, cut benefits, or raise taxes. In the meantime, though, they will have added all sorts of new ‘entitlements’, which will require additional money.

Government will spend whatever money it can get its hands on. In Missouri, we have the minimal protection of the Hancock Amendment (which was responsible for the tax cuts that state politicians brag on) to restrain spending growth rate. Even so, a good economy has created record government revenues and spending at all levels. Why then, do cities, schools and the State all ‘need’ more money and ask us to raise the rate of taxation?

Another aspect of the scam is that politicians base their forecasts on the assumption that the current economic boom will go on forever. When we do hit a dip (or even a valley), revenue will decrease and needs will increase. Remember the late 1970s with 16% mortgage rates coupled with high inflation and high unemployment? It can happen again – because buying votes now is more important than planning ahead.

So, let us go blithely along, electing politicians who are going to take our money and then ‘do things’ for us. Or, more to the point, take someone else’s money. As the French philosopher Voltaire wrote, "In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other."

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