Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin Republican) has been much in the news recently. Most recently in a column by Paul Krugman in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/opinion/08krugman.html?hp But Ryan’s notoriety raises many issues that should be publicly addressed, and here are some additional observations for you to consider.
First and foremost, Mr. Ryan was part of the Republican majority in both houses of Congress that created the huge debt that we “enjoy” today, he voted with George W. Bush to give away the surpluses in the U.S. Treasury, to spend billions of dollars in
Iraq and Afghanistan and to reduce taxes for the wealthiest Americans (which caused the debt). And he also voted for TARP. In other words, far from being part of the solution, Congressman Ryan was and continues to be part of the problem.
When Washington politicians talk against welfare, let us not forget for one moment that the biggest welfare program in the world can be found in the U.S. Congress. Men who might never hope to be truly successful in private enterprise enjoy salaries in excess of $170,000.00/year, and they also benefit from political donations as well. Nobody receiving welfare payments or unemployment compensation enjoys that much luxury. If we eliminated elections and drafted Congressmen from our welfare and unemployment rolls, we could double the size of Congress, cut the individual salaries in half, and save a bundle, and there is no reason to believe the quality of government would be any worse because we would eliminate the possibility of corruptive influence from campaign donors. Note that the original Constitution stated that members of the House of Representatives “shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand” citizens. We are far from getting the representation called for in the Constitution.
If you are inclined to listen to those who rail against taxing the wealthy, saying things like “Why should the wealthy pay more taxes than the rest of us?” Just consider how the wealthy live. They don’t eat at Wendy’s or MacDonald’s. When the wealthy eat hamburgers, they pay much more for them than most other people do. They consume the same beef, tomatoes, lettuce, etc., but pay much more for it, and they don’t complain. They also pay more for their automobiles, their homes their clothes and memberships in private clubs than most of us can afford. They generally drive longer distances and therefore consume more gasoline (and generate more wear and tear on public roads with their heavier vehicles). So why should they object to paying more taxes for “membership” in a society that provides them with such opportunity? It simply doesn’t make sense, “does not compute.”
And the wealthy do not become wealthy on their own merits. Nobody working alone, not even Warren Buffet, could amass great wealth; they are aided and abetted by many people who work with them and for them. Without people working on his assembly lines, Henry Ford would never have achieved his wealth. Without people working in steel mills, coal mines and oil fields, people like Dale Carnegie and Winthrop Rockefeller would never have achieved their wealth. And in the same sense that paying dues to the country club entitles members to enjoy the services of kitchen staff, waiters and other employees of the club, the paying of taxes results in much the same benefits. Think of how different our problems and our nation would be if congressional lobbies were restricted by the taxes contributed by the lobbyists and those they represent, and not by political contributions.
In approaching our future, our most important issues must be addressed, and those are and always will be: public health, education and infrastructure and none of those issues can be adequately addressed without reasonable taxation.