There is, as there almost always is, considerable talk about taxes and plans to save money. I’ll offer a few rambling thoughts that wandered into my mind about these matters.
When it comes to taxes, most folks would rather not pay them. Most folks are, however, rather happy about what taxes provide to us. One interesting thing about taxes is that if some people to get more out of tax funded things than they put in, it follows that other folks must pay in more than they get. Of course, everyone can get out more than they put in, provided that the state is going into deficit spending (which we have, massively). In some ways the tax system can be a looked at a bit like how Marx looked at the notion of profit. To grossly oversimplify the Marxist analysis of profit, someone has to be underpaid in order for there to be a profit. For example, to make a profit on a $2 widget, that means that the widget must cost less than $2 to make, ship and sell. This entails that someone is either being paid less than what they contribute is worth (such as the laborer) or the customer is paying more than the widget is “really” worth.
So, if the government is providing goods and services to people beyond what they paid in, other people have to be paying more than they are getting from the state. Thus, some taxpayers, it would seem, are being exploited by the state.
Naturally, it might be claimed that the folks who are being exploited by the state are the folks who are often exploiting others to make profits. However, this would not seem to make the situation fair-it would be merely creating yet another case of exploitation.
Being a bit facetious, you might say that people can be divided into left and right by who they favor exploiting. If you think the rich should exploit the non-rich, welcome to the right. If you think the non-rich should exploit the rich, welcome to the left. If you like both ideas, welcome to congress.
Now, to ramble a bit on savings. Obama has been saying that we will be able to save money in health care and such by being more efficient and doing various other vague things that sound good. We have also been told that he will be creating more jobs.
The thing about saving money is that saving money is not like preventing a leak in your water pipes to save on your water usage. After all, the leaking water is wasted by leaking into the ground. But, it is not that the money is leaking away to be destroyed. Rather, it is going to pay people. Now, some of this money might not be warranted (that is, people might be getting money that they should not), but presumably some of it pays salaries and so on. So, when we talk about money being lost, we need to be a bit more careful about what we mean.
To use another example, consider when people talk about money lost after a disaster. True, money is lost due to businesses not being able to operate, but the money that must be spent rebuilding is not really lost. Rather, it goes into paychecks and material sales (plus plenty of corruption and waste). As Halliburton folks will attest, disasters can be a great economic boon and not as loss of money at all.
This is not to say that we should not be concerned about money being lost or wasted. But, we should consider what sort of savings are really possible and what the price of such savings would be.