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Just say NO!

Economy

Some say that the Tea Party movement and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform advocacy group are fighting an imaginary problem. Consider this: Federal tax revenue has plummeted since the beginning of the last recession to its lowest level in 60 years. Perhaps we pay too little in taxes for all the benefits that come from our federal government?

The real issue for Washington is not on the revenue side where the GOP team has a promising plan for reforms. Lowering the tax burden across the board is step number one. I would also advocate removing all privileges currently enjoyed by government employees (job security, higher pay, and better benefits) in order to give the middle class in the private sector what Vice President Joe Biden likes to call “a level playing field.” Closing the tax loopholes is another necessary condition. Which loopholes? It’s time to get the specifics from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. My suggestion is to broaden the tax base by letting all loopholes—exemptions as well as subsidies—go.

Yes, Big Bird, Gov. Romney is right. My kids and I like you but you don’t need welfare—you and your friends from Sesame Street will do just fine on the free market. Our legislators should be reminded that taxation’s purpose is not to constantly redesign the “playing field” for the market participants. Taxation’s purpose in a constitutional republic of self-governing people is to raise revenue to pay for the protection of the people’s rights. We should shut the door, once and for all, to political attempts to extract privileges for any special interest group.

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Our fiscal problem is, and has been since the New Deal, on the spending side. Even excluding our military sector, during the last 80 years our federal government has grown much faster than the ability of the people to produce. State and local governments have followed the bad example of Washington: In the first decade of the new millennium, their budgets have expanded at almost twice the rate of the private sector's gross domestic product.

Barack Obama came to office explaining how we could cut the deficit by forcing the wealthy to pay “just a little bit more.” No, Mr. President, we can’t! We cannot balance our budget even if we triple the tax rates of every American entrepreneur. And even if we nationalize every corporation and small business making above $250,000 a year, we would still face a multi-trillion-dollar debt burden.

Statesmen who can control themselves and spend our tax money the way responsible adults spend their personal incomes are more rare than unobtainium. It is almost impossible to elect leaders who know when to say "no!" I have no illusions about Obama’s priorities should he win a second term, but I can see how Romney and Ryan have energized the fiscally conservative majority in America. My hope is that we can persuade the next administration to push for a constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids imposing hidden taxes originating in inflationary actions of the Federal Reserve or in deficit government spending.

America will be swept either by a fiscally conservative tsunami or by the tsunami of a fiscal crisis. It is up to all of us to stop expecting too much from our federal government and to take more responsibility for our own lives—as did the heroes of the American Revolution. Remember Thomas Paine’s warning: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” We have two paths in front of us: one leads to more bureaucratic tyranny and decay, the other to liberty under the re-established rule of law.

Alex Tokarev
Alex Tokarev

Alex is the chair of the Department of Business at Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., and teaches at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The native of communist Bulgaria fanatically supports the Bulgarian soccer team, Levski.

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