Curbing Government

A friend and I have exchanged emails lately about my town’s requirement that I directly pay for repairs to my sidewalk and curbing in the public right-of-way — a looming prospect here. While not solely peculiar to Pennsylvania, I don’t think most towns impose this upon property owners. After all, we do pay real estate taxes, and here in our town, we pay ridiculous amounts of them. In fact, a similar town in Massachusetts typically levies a rate of one-third what we pay. Surrounding towns are no better. We pay higher taxes than my friends in Massachusetts and yet theirs include such services as trash pickup, sidewalk maintenance as well as the schools, police, and fire department.

My friend went off on a tangent, expressing his frustrations with government taxation in general. As a Canadian, he understands better than most about the imposition of extreme tax rates, which in Canada mostly pay for a shrinking amount of their much-ballyhooed health care coverage. As he explains most eloquently:

After maxing out all they can take from people for property taxes, income taxes, vehicle licensing taxes, and tolls, they then move on to all forms of “pay-as-you go” taxes and tolls, incl. curb + sidewalk installation taxes, etc. In short, taxation knows no bounds. Taxes on taxes on taxes.

A single person in Canada will pay, collectively approximately 65% of gross income in all forms of taxes combined. There are many taxes on top of taxes. Taxes charged 2 and 3 times again AFTER you’ve already paid full taxes on the same income.

Here’s one example of where the so-called “Affordable” Care Act is going. “Affordable” you say? Even the name of the Act is cynical and loaded. “Affordable”? “Affordable” to whom? Rest assured, the reason the insurance companies love the so-called ACA is because in the long run, they’re going to slowly but surely rape and pillage countless billions in profits.

Canada and Norway introduced socialized medical care in the early 1960s. It was inexpensive and all-inclusive thru the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s the rates shot up and they began charging an enormous amount of taxes to pay for “all-inclusive” health care. Then, in the 1990s, line item by line item, they began dropping this and that from being included in the plan. Today, the system in Canada is not what it should be and is really expensive.

Here are just a few examples: Eye care is no longer included. Nope. Not eye exams or eyewear. Not glasses. Also, teeth are no longer included because the Dentist lobby got that dropped. Now they charge for ambulances. After all, who needs eyesight or good teeth? As a result, I haven’t been to a GP, eye Doctor or a dentist since spring, 2001. Since before the WTC fell. Why? Because I can’t afford to go.

Also, the waiting line for care in Canada is very long. GPs have been dropping out of the system for many years now, becoming only high paid specialists. In 2015 in Canada, if you are unable to find a GP, because there are none who will take you as a new patient, or yours retired, you have to go to Emergency at a Hospital and sit in the waiting room for an average of 12 hours before being served. That’s the “penalty box” for healthcare.

Much of what my friend ascribes to health care has spread throughout the economy in general. Government breaks things and then government comes in to “fix” it. For me, this latest round of debate about the minimum wage exemplifies it. People fret about the fact that no one can live on the minimum wage, forgetting that this was never the intention of having one. If we now have too many people only making minimum wage, it must be because we have blocked off access to entry level jobs, increasing the supply of labor and doing nothing to increase the demand for it.

At one time in this country, there was a wide variety of entry points into the work force — much wider than we see today — because those of modest means could start relatively simple businesses and chase their dream. They would hire people to tape up shipping boxes, assemble small widgets, drive a fork lift, and more.

As it becomes simply more and more expensive just to hire anyone just to push a broom, the little guy reconsiders his plan to start any business that might involve employees for one of several reasons. Either he:

  • doesn’t have access to the necessary capital
  • doesn’t have the right connections
  • can’t figure out or bother with the red tape

Those who do have connections immediately seek out methods of automation. Machines flip the burgers. Robots sweep the floors. Computers answer the phones. At one of those giant WalMart distribution centers, you could probably fit all the employees there on one school bus*.

So, to fix things for those who have to work minimum wage jobs, many in restaurants, government mandates a hike in the price of labor, but does nothing for its value. A restaurant owner I work with described an interesting scenario. If they raise minimum wage to $15/hour, he expects to get a higher number of applications from older people who don’t need the job. He says he’ll see empty nesters looking to fill his or her day with something to earn a little extra cash, pushing out the young people seeking entry into the workforce at any wage. This exacerbates the youth unemployment problem that government will “fix” with another jobs program, paid for with a new tax on you and me and on businesses like my client’s restaurant. And the cycle continues, the ratchet clicks.

With Maryland’s Child Protective Services now outright kidnapping 8 year olds that they see playing by themselves in the public park, I’m more convinced than ever that government is completely out of control. People don’t seem to realize that giving government the power to control the other guy means they will eventually come for you.

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* Update: I actually have a friend who drives a truck for Walmart who pointed out to me that his distribution center employs 1000 people. Yes, I should have checked with him first, but the brand-new center I toured near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania did not look like it provided the four acres of employee parking it would need for the number of cars that would convey all those people. I think it’s safe to say that Walmart is very busy trying to figure out how to reduce its labor overhead, as  well it should to stay competitive.