Note To The Tea Party et alia

From somewhere out there, via Texas, this crossed The Lion’s cyberdesk today:

Every year on April 15 I read about how hard we individuals work, and how the government steals our money and dumps it down a bunch of rat holes. Strangely, that’s not how I feel about taxes, so I thought that this April 15 I’d say something different:

Thank you.

I grew up hearing the story of how my grandfather stalled his creditors long enough for Roosevelt’s farm loan program to take effect. My father worked that farm all through my childhood, and my parents still own it today.
Thank you, taxpayers.

I went to a public high school and a state university. My graduate education was paid for by a National Science Foundation fellowship. Thanks.

My wife has had cancer twice and survived both times. I’ve never traced the history of the drugs and procedures that saved her life, but I’ll bet there’s some federally-funded basic research back there somewhere. Thanks.

I’ve lived with the benefit of government regulation all my life. My food has been inspected. My drugs have been tested. The SEC has watched the people who sell me investments. The FDIC has kept my bank accounts secure. God knows how many unsafe or fraudulent products were taken off the shelves before I could make the mistake of buying them. Thanks.

The air I breathe and the water I drink are cleaner than they were when I was in high school, because laws to clean them up were passed and enforced. Thanks.

I drive on interstate highways in cars that are safe because government regulators forced the car companies (kicking and screaming, usually) to make them safe. I ride in airplanes guided by federal air traffic controllers, often flown by pilots who learned their trade in the Air Force. And those planes probably wouldn’t exist at all without research paid for by the Pentagon. Thanks.

My parents are both in their upper 80s and failing. They live a thousand miles away. I don’t know how I’d be taking care of them if not for Social Security and Medicare. This past year several of my friends have been out of work. I’d have been seriously worried about them if there were no unemployment insurance. Thanks.

Thanks for the Internet, which started out as a federal program. Thanks for taking care of the poor, so that I don’t have to live in a place where people drop dead in the streets. Thanks for FEMA, which I haven’t needed yet, but you never know. Thanks for the CDC, and for all those infections that I haven’t been exposed to. Thanks for National Weather Service. Thanks for the national parks.

I’m sure I left some stuff out, but you get the idea. Thank you for paying your taxes. Thank you for participating in this society where we take care of each other, and where we buy stuff collectively that none of us could buy as individuals. (The free market can give us Disneyworld, but it takes a government to give us Yellowstone or Yosemite.)

Every day, I read about a government that steals our money, money that we earned by our own individual hard work, without any government help at all. I don’t know what planet those writers live on.

Maybe someday NASA will discover that planet. When they do, let’s not go there.

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8 Responses

  1. The SEC has watched the people who sell me investments.

    …and are still watching.

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    • More action than we had under the Republicans, if I recall correctly. What I’m not clear on is why Paulson was not charged with something like conspiracy, in that they picked the mortgages, knowing they were bad, that would go into the package, and were shorting the securities.

      In any event, I’m not trying to make any claim that the system is perfect or that taxes don’t get wasted, especially under Republican regimes that gut regulatory agencies designed to protect the taxpayer. But for the TPers to run around claiming high taxes when they pay less taxes, on the whole, than in several decades is ridiculous. And the grayheads in the crowd might want to think twice about the dickheads they admire in Congress whose idea of fiscal responsibility is to cut Medicare and Social Security, leaving those TP elders out in the street where they can happily die in the rain or the snow or the heat out in front of the hospital they won’t be able to get into anymore.

      It’s not perfect by a long shot, and there is certainly room for reform in the government’s systems, but it’s not such a bad system if run legally and ethically and rationally. The TP wants to run it emotionally, on fumes of ignorance and sheer stupidity. Listen close and you can hear the whining they’ll fill the air with if they get their way.

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      • Our local paper, not exactly the NY Times (actually, printing the AP story off the wire) said that Paulson wasn’t charged because it was Goldman that made the misrepresentations of omission, not Paulson. Paulson simply made a shit load of money from it ($15 billion), primarily because they knew the securities would go downhill, and they bet that they would.

        But then that sort of sounds like insider trading, although anyone willing to bet against the market could have made money on them. The crime was Goldman’s because they represented that they were good investment vehicles to be bought on the assumption that they would increase in value, not decrease.

        We really need some revamping and stricter oversight of the market. The SEC is good, but it could be a lot better. What good do they do if, after the fact, they catch the bad guys, whose ill-gotten gains are already in untouchable off-shore accounts?

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        • So even if Paulson helped create the investment vehicle with the intent that it fail, they aren’t liable?

          And I totally agree on the need for strict oversight. I’d go so far as to say these guys are economic terrorists and that any gains they make, anything they own, no matter where they put their gains, are fair game for the government, and these guys are fair game for Guantanamo-style hard time (minus the torture bullshit).

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          • I guess it’s not a crime to create an investment designed to fail. The crime is to not disclose it to potential investors in the prospectus the Blue Sky and federal laws require. Paulson must not have made any representations to anyone designed to induce them to buy.

            It would have been very important to let potential investors know that one of the designers of the programs had a negative stake in it, and that would have fallen on the seller, GS.

            As I said, I guess. Not my area of expertise, obviously.

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            • You be more experty than me. 🙂

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            • How is an investment designed to fail different from a war designed to fail? Each made an enormous amount of money for all those involved.

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  2. Marc –

    Actually, in the investments matter, a lot of people lost a lot of money because they weren’t in on the joke. In the war matter, we might consider the lives lost by tens of thousands of people involved, as well as the money lost that they would have earned had they not died, and the richness of their potential contributions to society.

    But to your point, yeah. The designers and their friends in on their little jokes, they all made out very well financially.

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