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A Voice from Fly-Over Country
May 13, 2009

While We Still Have a Democracy, Let’s Use It
by Robert L. Hale

MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA —Our government is broken. Our leaders continue the business-as-usual policies of tax and spend, instead of acknowledging the lack of discipline, vision, and leadership in our nation’s capital. Until we fix this, our economic problems will persist no matter how we tax.

Our leaders at every level are relentlessly confiscating more of our wealth and inhibiting our productive capabilities. While the President calls it “Remaking America,” we are embarking on a spending and rulemaking orgy that will end in one of two ways. The first is a dramatic and negative decline in our standard of living, coupled with a vastly more powerful and intrusive government. The second is a revolutionary change in how we govern ourselves.

When elected officials have no idea what to do, they draft more laws, impose tighter controls on us, and increase taxes and spending. Instead of tempering the raging economic meltdown, they are fanning the flames driving it. Instead of acknowledging government failures as the prime cause of our problems, they legislate new sure-to-fail measures. This Remaking of America is alien to everything that was responsible for the high standard of living this country brought to the world.

The rhetoric is measured, even soothing. The wolf is at our door bringing with it taxes, regulations, unimagined spending, and irresponsibility. The rhetoric cloaks this wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the general public seems to buy it. While the “tea parties” on April 15 brought hope, our leaders do not appear to have listened or cared.

We are told that taxes will decrease for 95 percent of us. Even a poor public education should be sufficient to inform us such a promise is about as sincere as saying, “I’ll respect you in the morning.” The Obama Administration is calling for hundreds of billions of dollars a year in fees on energy production and pretending these fees are not a tax. The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing billions more in fees on our agricultural production. Again, they tell us these are not taxes. The truth is that these policies will confiscate what we earn.

If higher taxes were a solution to what ails our country, they could be tolerable. However, they are not. In fact, they are a major contributor to the problems we face.

Our leaders see no connection between what they do and do not do and our economic mess — millions of illegals in our country, rampant drug use, massive welfare, family breakdown, out-of-wedlock births, a failed public education system, out-of-control health care costs, and our declining industrial base.

Rather than attend to these structural problems, our leaders promote racial division, class hatred, and impending global nightmares. If the consequences were not so dire, these petty political games and posturing might be laughable. However, there is nothing funny about the situation.

We need to dramatically and quickly reform our broken political system. The first step is to cut federal spending by 25 percent now and by 50 percent over the next 10 years. Anything less will be inadequate.

Next, we need to put an absolute limit on how much of our wealth the government can take. Combined federal, state, and local taxes should be limited to no more than 15 percent of earnings. It is time we again constitutionally abolish income taxes and include a prohibition on property taxes.

Every citizen must be responsible to pay a share of the cost of government — every citizen. The tax system we have in place is worse than a ponzi scheme. It penalizes those who create wealth, and it rewards those who contribute the least.

Forty percent of the people in our country pay no taxes, yet they elect those who promise to take from the producers and give to them. If this does not stop, the United States will end up like every other nation in history — a historical footnote destroyed by an irresponsible government and destructive tax system.

While we still have a working democracy, let us implement these reforms.

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A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright © 2009 by Robert L. Hale and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a non-profit public interest law firm. For more than three decades he has been involved in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.

See a complete biographical sketch.

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