Welcome to the second Civil War. This time it is the taxpayers against the taxeaters; the hand versus the cookie jar. The tea party sparked it, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey declared it, and now Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has fired the first shot.
On one side of the economic Mason/Dixon line are taxpayers, people who send more money to government than they receive from it. On the other is taxeaters, whose ledger balance is reversed. Pick your side, either by circumstance or by aspiration or by affection.
And then pace yourself, as we all have a very long ways to go. All of the towns in all of the counties in all of the states across the country are broke, and so is the federal government that has been bailing them all out for the past 40 years with borrowed money. They all have to balance their own budgets, and there is no cavalry coming.
I heard the first warning that this day would come when I was 10 years old in 1964; I had no idea what "untenable" meant back then, but I sure get it now. And balancing government budgets means cutting spending, because there is no more money – our taxpayers won’t give any more, and the Chinese won’t lend any more.
Meanwhile, our federal government is a week or so away from a shutdown. Taxeaters are apoplectic over the thought, while taxpayers are crossing off the days on our calendars. For libertarians, it will be a holiday – I Told You So Day.
No one will die; most of what is shut down will not even be noticed. The government will have to spend only what it takes in, and spend it only on essential services. Air traffic controllers will be on duty, and the NPR grant won’t make the cut. Belgium is on day 250 of their government shutdown and they still live longer than us. Breathe, breathe.
Just like our first one, our second civil war is also about slavery. The first time, we emancipated others in the private sector; this time we are emancipating ourselves from the public sector. Ok, technically, we are not tax slaves, rather indentured servants. The difference is that indentured servants can theoretically end their slavery by paying off the debt owed to their master.
And what is that debt up to these days? According to USA Today, our government is facing $63.8 trillion of debt obligations – sovereign debt, pension liability, entitlement obligations, health care, and so on. Your household’s share is $546,888. That is not a misprint; that is what the taxeaters’ spending habits have racked up on your dime. That’s why we aren’t getting along so good these days.
I hope this post will reach some of you 20-year-old college students who joined the public unions to protest in Madison these past weeks, because your $546,888 share works out to installments of $29,956 per year for the next 50 years. You were marching with the people who don’t think that is enough – did you know that? And every day we don’t fix our budget problems the pile gets $4 billion deeper.
This is serious stuff, the kind that serious people are trying to fix, while unserious people continue to lie, sloganeer, pitch a fit, or just run away.
When you students were hauling signs around for the greybeards at Bitch Fair On The Square, your solidarity brothers and sisters probably didn’t tell you that you will have to work past 70 so they can keep on retiring in their 50’s, did they? I didn’t think so.
And they probably just forgot to tell you that you will earn only half of what they do in real dollars as the mountain of debt devalues our currency over your lifetime. And I’m certain they did not mention that the collective bargaining they insist on is how we got union-owned health insurance that costs team taxpayer $10,000 more than what insurance costs private employers on the open market.
How much of that ten grand per worker do you suppose goes straight from the taxpayer’s wallet to the taxeaters’ unions, the source of most Democrat campaign funds? Now do you understand why they were throwing cups and papers when the law past in the lower chamber last night? Do you see why the idea that a donor could buy a governor for paltry $43k is insulting to someone with intelligence and a basic grasp of how things really work in the tawdry world of money and politics.
This is your future we’re talking about; use your head. Want to guess which side was bought off with donor money? How about the one wearing their donor’s T-shirts, for Pete’s sake? Of course they went hysterical – just like Lindsay Lohan when the judge ordered her to rehab. The party’s over and they can already feel the shakes coming on. They told disabled people they would die if the bill passed - you can't even look up and see the bottom of the barrel from that place.
Your household’s $546,888 isn’t enough for the taxeaters; they want more. And don’t forget you will be picking up their $546,888 shares too, because taxeaters get their household's money from you, the taxpayer. The most honest thing said about the intent of these protests was the union guy who threatened to anal rape the gay camera man – we have been taking it there for half a century from these mugs.
As you students contemplate the complicated issues of fiscal policy and social justice I ask you to at least consider this: you are only one graduation day and one hire date away from those Capitol protests changing from being about the money to being about your money. This is all about how much you are willing to take from your wallet and give to those people hollering in the rotunda. The Governor does not have a big box of cash that gets filled up by the tooth fairy every night for him to give out to everyone that wants some.
You are taxeaters right now, but you are about to move over to the other side of the table for the rest of the dinner party at the cannibals’ house. Hopefully, you will all get good jobs so you can be in the upper half of income earners; that is why you went to school. We top 50% income earners pay 96% of the taxes - that’s the machine you were raging against last week. The taxeaters have their thongs all twisted in a bunch since November because we said no to the other 4%.
Ours is the jersey you will put on pretty soon; and when you do, then all those mean, vile, vicious threats that the taxeaters hurled at us last week will be directed at you. You will be the problem, the greedy one, the enemy of democracy because you do not give them more of your money. Don’t take it personal, it’s just their quirky way of telling us how much they love and appreciate us for paying all their doctor bills when their children get sick. You’re welcome, taxeaters.
Now, of course you can give the taxeaters more of your money, there is absolutely nothing preventing you from paying more taxes than you owe if you think higher taxes are a good answer for our budget problems. Actually paying more would make you stand out in the crowd of liberals who say I should, but never do themselves.
Public sector workers hate to be called taxeaters; they argue that they are taxpayers too. Well, not really. When your daughter rebates you 10% of her allowance she does not join you as a breadwinner; she becomes a bit less of a burden in strictly economic terms, and this is economics, not social studies. Of course we love our daughters, just like we love our teachers and cops and city clerks, but we eventually have to say no more Justin Bieber posters for you, sweetie, because Daddy ran out of money. Some kids pout longer than others.
This is not a game, and it’s not about the political class of Republicans and Democrats or their fawning media cheerleaders keeping the applause lights lit. It is about your liberty, your economic opportunity, your prosperity, your future. History is replete with the cases of great nations which have collapsed under the weight of the debt they have run up to appease their taxeaters’ demands.
It will happen here if we do not quickly and drastically change course. That will not be easy and it will not be painless. It will just be less painless than staying on course and going over the cliff.
"Moment Of Clarity" is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment and order his new book, "Tooth Fairy Government."