Not my high school…
Back in high school, my parents would give me a little bit of money on Saturdays so I could go out with friends after church (we had Saturday night services). Depending on the week, it was usually between 10 and 20 bucks.
The nerd that I am, I always squeezed every penny of that money so it would last the entire week. My friend Mike would drive (the only one of us with a car) and I would pay for snacks.
It was a good system.
As I think back on those days one thing I remember is how broke I was every Saturday. By the time Saturday rolled around, the money from last week was always gone. I tried to save some of the money a few times, but it never grew to more than a few dollars before I spent it.
My problem wasn’t my ability to save. At the same time I was spending this allowance, I was also holding onto birthday and Christmas money for months at a time. I’d get 50 or 100 dollars on these holidays (thanks to my big family) and hold onto it until I found exactly what I wanted: a special movie, a video game, the next Animorphs book. Something that would cost more than what my parents gave me.
And while saving my money was easy, the weekly allowances always disappeared quickly.
An Obvious Truth
The difference is obvious, isn’t it? It’s easier to spend someone else’s money. When my money was at stake, I was careful how I spent it. But my parent’s money? That I could spend without a second thought.
This, my friends, is the problem with taxes.
When governments tax us, they’re taking our money to spend it how they see fit. I’m not anti-tax or anything. Taxes give us roads, a strong military, and other nice things. Unfortunately, the system also lends itself to overspending.
Both the Obama and Bush administrations proved this with their bailouts. In a time when government spending was already at an all time high and the economy was at its lowest in decades, these administrations spent close to two trillion dollars to postpone the inevitable recession. (Which they both failed to do).
What’s worse, after Bush’s failed attempt Obama did it again! Why would he take such a risk on the American economy? Because it wasn’t his money. To governments, trillion is just a number. They don’t have to worry about things like budgets, savings, or the future because they think there will always be more.
Like me in high school, governments assume they will always be able to get more money from their people. And if they mis-spend that money, it doesn’t hurt them because it wasn’t their money.
It’s A Problem
Over time, the tax mindset has really hurt the American people. Our government is horribly in debt; overspending has become a detrimental problem to the international economy; and the people who keep footing the bill are starting to get upset.
Upset like my parents got when I was angry after they wouldn’t buy me something. They knew I could work and save up for it so they told me to. I got angry and they asked why I was so willing to spend their money but not my own.
I didn’t have a good answer. And I don’t have one to the tax problem either.
Keep voting, I guess. Push for term limits when it comes up. Consider learning about the Fair Tax.
This post isn’t really about an answer, just a problem I’ve noticed for awhile that I thought you should be aware of.
What do you think we should do about the “someone else’s money” tax problem?
[Image by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license]