What Would Miss Kitty Do?

There’s gambling in Dodge City again. Our state’s leaders have been betting on gambling for nearly thirty years now.  First it was lotteries, then a dog track, then a horse track.  They have all been losing bets.

I grew up not far from the Woodlands dog and horse tracks.  They are almost deserted.  In the meantime, real businesses–restaurants and stores–have grown up in the same neighborhood.  Wyandotte County has experienced real growth in the past ten years with real, family-friendly businesses.  I often enjoy taking my grandchildren to T-Rex or Books-A-Million.

Now our state fathers want to put a casino in the neighborhood.

The state’s first casino opens today in Dodge.  Our legislators imagine that vacationers from both coasts will spurn Las Vegas and flock to the former home of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Miss Kitty herself to donate their money to our state’s economy.

Gambling is a tax on the poor.  The rich and famous may save up and budget for a lavish vacation in Las Vegas–although that city is being hit hard by the recession–but they are not going to come to Kansas to spend their entertainment dollars.

The one political fact that has been constant for the past thirty years is that you can’t raise taxes on the people who can afford to pay taxes.  It is unpatriotic to ask those who benefit most from the nations economy to contribute more.  It is unpatriotic to expect those with the most assets protected by the military to contribute a larger share to the military budget.  It is unpatriotic to ask those who need an educated workforce to contribute their share to the educational budget.  And if we tax the benefits of the bankers who ran the economy into the ground–who will be willing to run our banks anymore?

So politicians won’t raise taxes.  Instead they cut funding to education and programs for the elderly and the disabled.  And they come up with scams that they think will stimulate the economy and bring in revenue.  It’s time we call their bluff.

Soldier and Mom Reply

Good reply mom, but i would also point out that

American taxes were not meant to “redistribute the wealth”.  Taxes were implemented to meet the infrastructure needs of a civil society.

On that note, most of the examples you listed are things that should be taxed at the local or state level to meet the needs of that particular area, not redistribute.

Yes, some of the financial problems would have benefited from a lot more oversight, especially the loan insurance programs. That is why we have a flexible government, we see a problem, we take measures to correct it. It won’t get any better as technology keeps progressing, new problems that we havnt’ even thought of will happen. And we will react. Keep in mind however that the government pushed the banking industry to give sub-prime mortgages in an effort to get the poor into homeownership roles. Good intentioned idea, but great example of why “Good ideas” by the government do not always translate to smart economics.

Just because some taxation is necessary to provide social infrastructure does not mean that we should say “well, while we are at it, lets go ahead and become socialists”. Its not really “bunk” to be bought into. Its just a different philosophy. The amount of government intrusion into our lives and pocketbooks has steadily increased since Roosevelt. It would seem to me, that there should be a stopping point somewhere along the way. I know how government budgets work, if there is money there, it will be spent. It would seem to me it would be better to limit the budgets and force the programs to accomodate or become more efficient. You can see how the opposite attitude would easily lead to lots and lots of wasted money and bloated ineficiency.

Im also not sure how Kennedy plays up as this ideal to be compared to our founding fathers who would be considered Libertarians by todays standards. He was in office a very short amount of time and other than his handling of the cuban missile crisis did not accomplish very much as very few of his programs were passed by congress. Not to disparage the man, but he really was more of a romantic ideal than someone who dramatically changed society.

Worthy of note however are the facts that he proposed tax cuts, not an increase, created the space program, and, he directed the CIA to support the Baath party in Iraq as they conducted a coup against their leadership. This resulted in the executions of thousands of educated Iraqis who were suspected of being leftists based on lists given to the Baath party by our government, as well as Saddam Hussein taking over the party shortly after. This was done in order to maintain Iraq as a stable oil producing region.

He spoke well and was a very romantic figure. Inspiring as well. I would say Obama meets at least those criteria. I am not really concerned as much about those attributes though. Abe Lincoln was one ugly dude. But he did have the fortitude to see our country through its darkest hour by making cold, callous, calculating and very unpopular decisions. Also very necessary.   Anyway, you are right, there is a line to be balanced, and in the end, that is the goal of most of us in the middle of the country. For me the line is not as thin, that’s all.

Chat with you later

Mom Replies

Well Klint as usual you have some very well thought out responses, and you are taxing my brain, as I am not a trained historian, but I did live during the time periods you talked about, and have some comments based on my observations.

To start with, Kennedy may not have lived long enough to implement some of his programs, but in the short period he did have, he accomplished an amazing amount.  lf all he accomplished was the “Space Program” that would have been substantial.

His info from the CIA was apparently misleading or “warped” about Iraq, I can only say that his decisions were based on what he thought was accurate info at the time, and  history lessons have led us down a path that were twisted to say the least based on “intelligence info.”  Perhaps you have more insight into this particular matter, but it doesn’t change the outcome.

As far as my remarks about Kennedy, I was trying to capture a “feeling” at the time of his inauguration that I believe is somewhat similar to Obama’s election.  We have a  relatively young president with a young family and what appears to be some new and refreshing ideas.  Kennedy gave us that “breath of fresh air” and new ideas and hopes and  dreams that Obama seems to also have; only time will tell.

As far as taxes and redistribution, I believe by definition redistribution means to reallocate, which pretty well sums up taxes.  I do believe the military and “your salary” are funded by federal taxes, but I’m sure you can correct me if I’m wrong.

Was the government pushing the poor into home ownership based on sub-prime interest loans, or was it the lower middle class that perhaps could have used some government funding to help them into home ownership?  This is the class that is usually working with two incomes and no health care, unlike the poor (Medicare) that can walk into any medical institute and receive health care at any given time and you and I are paying for it.

I have some very bitter feelings about our health care system, and yes I am very ready for change when it comes to health care.

I believe we can take the best from all the different systems out there and make something that works so that all our citizens are covered, and if that is socialized medicine then I am all for it!   I have talked to too many individuals that have experienced “socialized medicine’ in other countries that have had wonderful outcomes to say that “it doesn’t work.”

Well those are my thoughts at the moment,

later,

luv,

Mom

Taxman (Voodoo Economics -4)

No one likes paying taxes–even the Beatles had a song against the “Taxman.”

Yet, someone has to pay for the services government provides.  Voodoo economics has waged a war against taxes for nearly thirty years.  It is now considered unpatriotic to pay taxes.  Taxes are called a penalty for success.

The rich should pay more taxes because they have more money.

The rich also benefit more from the services government provides.  The largest recipient of tax money is the military.  The armed services protect us all, but oil companies, power plants, and large corporations have more assets to protect than I do, so they should pay more for the protection.

A curious thing has happened over the last twenty to thirty years.  States have turned to gambling–first lotteries, then dog and pony races, now casinos–as an alternative to taxes.  Conservative, pro-family religious leaders used to campaign against gambling, but they have focused their energies on other foes while the gambling lobby has slipped in the back door.

In Wyandotte County, where I grew up, there is an abandoned dog and horse track.  When lotteries failed to raise enough revenue the state legislature bet on race-track betting.  The track is now grown up with weeds.  After the failure of the state-sponsored horse raises, a NASCAR track was built, not to bring in gambling money but to attract those who are genuinely interested in the car races.  Around the track a shopping and restaurant district has sprung up and the economy has been revitalized.

Now plans have been announced to build a casino overlooking the race track.  I am afraid the casinos will bring crime and drive out the good restaurants and shops; but maybe not.  Whether gambling brings any general prosperity or not, we know it will bring bankruptcies, divorces, and suicides. So great is the aversion to raising taxes that our leaders are willing to pay that price.  I’m betting the casinos will turn out to be a losing proposition.

The Free Market Is Working

I admit, I’m reluctant to call it a free market when one of the parties is a Cartel. By definition a Cartel is a small organization of suppliers whose reason for existence is to manipulate prices by controlling the supply. I am also reluctant to call the market free when government policies subsidize oil companies and the manufacture of SUV’s–not to mention the fact that government policies subsidize highways rather than mass transit.

But I will admit, no one is taking a gun, putting it to my head, and forcing me to buy gasoline, so there is some freedom for the law of supply and demand to operate.

And, it’s working. We as a nation are driving less. Highway deaths are down. Presumably we are also walking more, or engaging in conversation with our neighbors and families; so it all has to be good. The market has forced us to do some things we needed to do anyway. And, miracle of miracles–the price at the pump is going down (more here).

So why are the champions of free markets whining? Why are they calling on the government to do something? Why aren’t they saying, “Trust the invisible hand of the market–it will take us where we need to be”?

Beside expensive gasoline, there is another problem with our dependence on automobiles. Our infrastructure is crumbling. The past week saw the anniversary of the bridge collapse in Minnesota. It turns out that on average, our bridges are built to last 50 years–and they are about 43-47 years old. Yikes!

It is going to take about 180 billion dollars to fix all those bridges, according to CBS. One problem is that since we are starting to use less gasoline, there is less gas-tax money available for highway and bridge projects. So, someone is going to have to find a way to pay for new bridges.

A higher gas tax might give us the additional shock needed to further reduce our consumption. The long-term result would be that the price of oil would drop further and the tax would be absorbed. But few politicians have the political will to support any kind of new tax.

Or maybe we should follow the “free market” idea all the way. The nation’s bridges could be privatized and sold to the highest bidder, who could then recoup their investment in the form of tolls.

The alternative is to admit that the free market can’t do everything; there is a place for some public projects. But then, if we admit transportation is a public need, maybe we could rethink the kind of public transportation we subsidize.

Meanwhile, some Christians are calling on God to intervene. They are starting a pray at the pumps movement. I guess that’s not wrong, since we are taught to “cast all our cares on him.” Since most of us have to fill up the tank to get to work and earn our daily bread–we could even add an addendum to the Lord’s prayer,

“Give us this day our daily bread, and the gasoline wherewith to drive to the place of earning thereof.”

Or maybe we should pray for the discipline to shake off our dependence on cars.

(Related article in Time)