The Day after Tax Day, Let’s Talk About Spending and Free Stuff

For some reason April 15, Tax Day, is a peak day for my government spending site, I would have thought that people would be looking at the site in the weeks before filing their tax returns.

The site has a similar experience with elections. The peak day is the day after the presidential election. You would think that concerned voters would be hungrily scouring the web for information on government waste and fraud in the weeks before the election.

It all goes to show that the voters, like the politicians and the bureaucrats, are always a day late and a dollar short. As Rush Limbaugh used to say in his Bill Clinton voice, “Heh heh, the buck never got here!”

In the Obama era, Rush’s joke is not funny anymore.

The thing that bothers me in election season is that we are always arguing about the marginal issues. Here’s what I mean. Your basic facts about government spending in the U.S. in 2016, federal, state, and local look like this:

  • Government Pensions: $1.3 trillion
  • Government Healthcare: $1.5 trillion
  • Government Education: $1.0 trillion
  • National Defense: $0.8 trillion
  • Government Welfare: $0.5 trillion
  • Everything Else: $1.6 trillion

This is the first year that education will crack a trillion. Yay, safe spaces!

Want to do something about the deficit? Then reform government pensions, starting with Social Security. Reform government healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid, instead of compounding the problem with ObamaCare. Never mind about immigrants and China; they are just a distraction.

For liberals eager to fight inequality I have an idea. Take the middle class off the government dole, and make us do our own retirement and kick in for our kids’ education. Then liberals would have lots of lovely money to help the poor. Only it would just enrich the fatcat providers of services to the poor.

But liberals would never do that. Because of the third rail. Don’t touch grandpa’s Social Security, because he already paid his share, and don’t touch Medicare because that would push grandma off a cliff.

How could we have come to this? Easy, because of the very nature of government.

Government is an armed minority occupying some territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its regime supporters.

It doesn’t matter what government does or does not do. The only thing that matters is that the regime supporters get their checks.

In the old days the government was the king and the regime supporters his courtiers and the nobles. Everyone else was on the outside and justly suspicious of political power. But the miracle of modern government is to make everyone into a regime supporter, because everyone gets rewarded -- by Social Security, by Medicare, by free education. That makes regime supporters out of the middle class. The poor get their own tranche of goodies, and they are told that the rich millionaire Democratic politicians are Fighting for Us, and so they are regime supporters too.

Want to make a revolution? Let the middle class tell the government to take its entitlements and its taxes and put them where the sun don’t shine. Then we middle-class voters will no longer be regime supporters, no longer hanging onto those government checks. Then we could truly tell the ruling class to take its government and shove it.

There is another category of person in the modern world, the regime enthusiast. I got this from lefty Brit prof Michael Mann in The Sources of Social Power. He uses the term “regime enthusiast” to explain 19th-century people like Prussian bureaucrats and German university professors. Today we call them liberals and SJWs. The regime enthusiasts are corrupted not just by money, but by power.

You can see why the outlook is hopeless. There is always another politician peddling some new offer of free stuff to us and recruiting new regime enthusiasts with the offer of money, power, and the love of beautiful women. You might think that all the veins of recoverable free stuff have already been mined by political prospectors, but that is not so. Along comes old-timer Bernie, and goes for the gold with free health care and free college.

But Bernie’s free health care and free college is nothing. How about free Assisted Living? I predict that America’s baby boomer seniors will soon demand justice for seniors and free Assisted Living. It is not just cruel and unjust to subject Americans and their families to end-of-life worries about paying for palliative and memory care and wiping out their savings. It is also gender discrimination against Gen-X women to deny them the right to follow their bliss and force them to sacrifice the best years of their lives caring for their cranky mothers.

Where will it all end? At least will be there to report on the royal road to fiscal ruin.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.