Happy Tax Day

A family member recently complained about the high cost to have her taxes prepared.

I said:

Well, taxes are complicated. If you want simpler taxes and a lower cost to prepare your tax return, vote for different people. Congress designs the tax code.

It was a rare occasion where this person didn’t have a comeback and, judging by the look on her face, hadn’t considered that connection before.

That reminds me of something else I read in the last couple days, but can’t remember where: We should move election day closer to tax filing day. We might see different results.

Lack of Understanding and Appreciation of Nation’s Founding Documents

I couldn’t agree with Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek more regarding his letter to USA Today.

Sandra Day O’Connor and George Nethercutt are correct that too many Americans lack sufficient understanding and appreciation of U.S. history and of the meaning of this nation’s founding documents (“Celebrate America by learning about her,” July 3).  In no group of Americans does this ignorance run more deeply and malignantly than it does for those in Congress and in the White House.

Aimed at ensuring that there would be no misunderstanding, the Tenth amendment makes clear what James Madison wrote in Federalist #45 about the U.S. Constitution: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined.”  Those few powers are enumerated and defined in Article I, Section 8.  Read the 429 words of this part of the Constitution and you’ll find no authority there (or anywhere else in the Constitution) for Uncle Sam to enforce minimum wages; to command Americans to purchase health insurance; to dictate the hiring practices of private firms; to operate a universal ‘pension’ program; to oversee or fund education; to subsidize farmers – indeed, no authority to do so much of what Washington does today as a matter of routine.

Yet every elected official in America swears an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Clearly, these oaths are muttered insincerely or in inexcusable ignorance (or both).

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

One thing I look for in a politician is evidence that he or she first understands the rules that they are signing up uphold and second agrees that the rules say want they were intended to say.

Journalism is in a really sad state when it can’t even seem to ask this basic question of candidates seeking elected office.  Of course, along with the elected officials, most journalists only have a vague understanding of the Nation’s founding documents and they feel comfortable granting government whatever it needs “to get the job done”, whether or not that job actually falls within the defined role of government or not.

Amazing Hoodwinking

It’s amazing to me that we continue to let Congress go down this path of rushed legislation.  “We must do this now!”  “We have to sign it before Christmas!”  They’ve used the same pattern for every piece of rushed legislation this year since the initial TARP programs last year.   TARPS I and II.  Stimulus.  Overextended budget.   Cap and trade (though not signed yet).  Health care.  “We can’t afford to stop and think about this.  We must act now!”

It’s the same argument global warming believers use with the planet.  “It will only happen gradually for the 50 – 100 years, but if we wait 5 more minutes it will be too late.”

In a former job we had a lot of “fire drills.”  The bosses would come with these important pieces of work that had to be done now!  They would get us all frothed up so that we were cranking out absolute crud until 2:00 am.  I coined a term for those projects:  JALJA (Jumping Around Like Jackasses).  “Here comes another JALJA,” became common lingo in my group.  Most of us eventually wised up and realized the JALJA’s weren’t important and moved onto to work for bosses who could use their resources effectively.  The JALJA leaders couldn’t figure out what was important and what wasn’t, so everything was, even when it wasn’t.  They didn’t know what they were doing, so they did a lot of it to keep people guessing.

The Congressional pace over the past year reminds me a lot of those good ole JALJA’s.  People seem to be wising up, based on Obama’s declining poll numbers.  I hope it will translate into results at the 2010 Congressional elections to restore a balance of power in Congress.

At the very minimum, maybe we will get back to the days where Congressman and Senators would at least read, if not come to fully understand the stuff they’re voting on.  It seems like such a basic expectation.