When I hear politicians and pundits talking about the way Big Government is sucking the life out of this country, I can’t help but feel a smidgin of guilt: my family is one of those that has been robbing the taxpayer blind for the past fifty years.
We can start with my parents, who, as members of the United States Air Force, were living off the taxpayers when they met. They courted and were married (by a Justice of the Peace, no less; yet another piglet sucking at the taxpayer teat) and in the fullness of time my brother, sister and I all came along — clutched firmly in the arms of Big Government, as my mother gave birth to each of us in Air Force hospitals built, staffed and run at taxpayer expense.
Like many military families, we moved around a lot, every couple of years packing our belongings into our baby-blue ’55 Ford Fairlane and hitting the road — highways built with yet more money extorted from the hapless working man in the form of taxes. During that time we kids were spared the living death of polio because the heavy hand of that socialist system in DC, always alert for ways to rob the honest American and steal his freedoms, had required that millions of American children be vaccinated, at taxpayer expense. When we did get sick, we were trundled off to the infirmary doctors — paid by the government — to have our broken limbs set, our gashes stitched and our fevers looked after.
After my father finished his twenty-odd years in that welfare system known as the US Air Force (currently employing — again, at taxpayer expense — more than 704,000 people directly), we moved back to his home town in Alabama, to a house that was lit and heated by electricity from — you guessed it! — another Big Government scam, the Tennessee Valley Authority, where we cooked and did our homework on the backs of honest working men and women who should have been spared the burden of providing electricity to hundreds of thousands of people who were too stupid or too lazy to live in the parts of the country that already had electricity (presumably put in place by the Iroquois at their own expense as a gift to the Founding Fathers.)
Still not content, my parents educated themselves on the G.I. Bill, yet another drain on the American pocketbook, and went to work, meanwhile putting their children into public schools, that notorious scheme by the Communists in Washington to get their hands on the money of the Joe the Plumber and brainwash his kids at the same time.
Because — as is often the case with the lazy and the shiftless — the cost of a higher education was beyond our means, I got through college with the aid of scholarships and grants and multiple part-time jobs — it’s always the moochers and the deadbeats who get the breaks, isn’t it? — while my sister worked her way through a Bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s by attending classes whenever she could, after spending eight hours a day behind a sewing machine in a factory that made blue jeans, until she finally got her own seat on the Big Government gravy train by becoming an elementary school teacher, indoctrinating generations of otherwise innocent children in the same pernicious principles of hard work and independence that had guided her life.
After twenty years working at our local bank, my father retired for the second time (people like us can’t stick with anything, that’s why we have to rely on the Trumps and the Kochs of the world to show us how it’s done) only to discover within a few years that he had developed a degenerative brain condition (a side-effect of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, while he was still sucking down that Big Government paycheck every month to send home to his greedy wife and kids) which eventually required him to move into a facility in Huntsville, Alabama (a veritable hotbed of Big Government welfare, what with the Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, and other such Bolshevik institutions) — where doctors and nurses could use him as an excuse to suck still more money from the taxpayer by taking care of him and other veterans like him, who seemed to think that the country somehow owed them something for their troubles.
Even after his death, my father managed to be a burden on the taxpayer — a military honor guard was sent from Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, three hours away, to serve as pallbearers and provide a final salute: a clear case of government spending spiraling out of control.
My mother (who turns eighty next year) is not content to have been a mere passenger on the Big Government Welfare Bus, but recently had knee surgery, paid for at least in part by Medicare. Having worked full-time until she was seventy, she seems to think that she’s somehow entitled to live an independent life for a few years longer. Of course, you do wonder why, at eighty years of age, she needs to be able to get out and about at all — well, I’m afraid you can blame those pesky public schools again, as they invite her several times a year to come out and talk to children about her experiences as a survivor of the the bombing of Pearl Harbor, indoctrinating still more of our youngsters in the insidious values of honor, patriotism, and duty, which are generally Socialist code — as we all know — for sitting around on your ass making a target of yourself in foreign places at taxpayer expense (Who isn’t aware that Hawaii is not part of the United States, but actually a province of Kenya?) when you should be at home managing your investments or washing the Lexus — or as Dick Cheney so ably demonstrated, working on the sixth year of your bachelor’s degree.
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve continued the family tradition: I get up in the morning and shower in water brought to me by a municipal water system constructed by those Tax-and-Spend devils in the government, breathing air kept clean by bureaucracies whose only function is to crush the spirits of honest American industrialists just trying to make enough to pay for that well-deserved fifth vacation home, and driving to work on a road that was paid for with someone else’s hard earned cash; knowing that I’m stealing all of these benefits from the pockets of people who are thereby forced to do without the things they deserve in places like West Palm Beach, Malibu, Vail, and Grand Cayman Island.
Fiscal cliff? Hell, no! It’s a golden opportunity to get this country back on track! Think of the millions of Americans serving in the military, in government, on municipal road crews, in air-traffic control towers, in police stations and firehouses, in national laboratories and public universities who can finally be forced to give up living off the taxpayer and go to work like everybody else! Why should the man who earns a measly half-million a year be forced to buy a used Beamer instead of the second Mercedes that he deserves just to support those thousands of deadbeats who work at defense contractors General Electric or Lockheed Martin, or at the National Institutes of Health — or, for that matter, at the local public library — soaking up those taxpayer dollars that could otherwise be used to buy a bigger boat, or a bigger pool, or speculate in the Hong Kong securities market? Maybe we need that wake-up call, before we all start singing the Internationale and demanding an improvement in the current infant mortality rate!
So what if 48 countries provide their babies with a better chance at surviving until age 5 than we do? That still means that we’re kicking the asses of 174 other countries, without raising taxes! What kind of life is it, anyway, if you have to live in Cuba (#40) or Belgium (#30) or France, God help us, (#11), where they have Socialized Medicine and tax all capital gains? We should be proud to stand alongside New Caledonia (#46), Belarus (#51) and Serbia (#53) with low, low tax rates and virtually no tax enforcement on investment incomes parked overseas! Isn’t that what freedom’s all about? [Figures are drawn from the 2012 estimates provided by the CIA World Factbook — yes the CIA, another bunch of idlers on the government dole.]
I realize that none of this has been all that funny, and I guess it wasn’t really meant to be.
Yes, there is vast waste and corruption in our system of governance, but I fear that we’ve become a nation of people who constantly peer over our neighbor’s fence to decry his excesses, while ignoring our own, and who will cheerfully deny a stranger the basic necessities that we take so completely for granted. We gnaw endlessly at the tired bone of Big Government, fretting over every dime, while we overlook just how much of that meat we ourselves have consumed, every day, in a million different ways. I am safer because of the work my tax dollars (and yours) do; I am healthier, I am more affluent, I am more secure. There are places in Afghanistan or Somalia or the Central African Republic where government plays no role whatsoever in the life of the people and nobody pays any taxes at all. Are things better there? I would venture to say that they are not.
Is there a happy medium? More than likely, but we’re not going to find it by beating each other over the head with “fiscal cliffs” and “nuclear options”. Reason is a gift that we humans get, free of charge, just for being human. Failing to use it seems… well, a bit wasteful.
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