Saturday, March 18, 2017

what the government giveth it can taketh away

Americans might be more interested (or should be) in the next government budget than they've ever been with half the country sure Trump is going to sell the country out. 

As a nation, generally speaking, we've been on a certain trajectory begun with the Roosevelts and in particular Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Using the Great Depression, he got many programs in place that his beloved uncle, Theodore, had been unable to do. America has had a kind of dual concept of itself from independent cowboy to custodian of the weak. When you have a dual sense of self, it can lead to what we see today. One side wins. The other is furious at the changes. And then it reverses.

It suggests cutting spending on most domestic programs to increase spending on military, nuclear, and Homeland Security, with his belief we are in trouble with enemies from around the world like North Korea, terrorist organizations, and possibly Russia again. When he says a strong military is a deterrent, I think he means it-- but is he right? When you have a strong military is there a temptation to use it like in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and assorted smaller operations around the world. America has never desired to be the world's mercenary force, but it has happened.

In addition, Trump wants to end minimum tax (something that has nailed his rates in the past) and lower taxes on corporations, where we have a high rate compared to other developed nations, and lower it on individuals with no certainty as to what that would involve.

So what it looks like is more military and less Meals on Wheels where they  receive 1/3 of their funding from the federal government.  

How does cutting a program like that actually save money if it forces the infirm from their homes and into institutions? Or are the critics of the funding right to think that the community will step up especially if it has more money due to lower tax rates?

There has been an economic theory that when the rich get richer, it trickles down. I think that's been proven a fallacy by the immense build up of wealth in the years since tax rates were lowered and their ability to hide money overseas has enabled them to avoid the taxes they might've paid. This is all made possible by government rules.

FDR believed in income redistribution as well as globalization-- though they called it a different name back then. Through the government projects he began, we ended up with some great infrastructures. Eisenhower went a step further with the interstate freeway systems, which allows ease of movement and also the massive trucking we have today. All that, while railroads, after years of much government help, were mostly ignored. Government giveth and government taketh away. 

It is possible that people will step up. In the past the Carnegies and their ilk built libraries, theaters, museums, added to national parks, and they did it, at least partly, to redeem their reputations after the robber baron accusations. Right now we seem to admire those so wealthy that all they can do with it is to use it to buy influence from both parties, which I guess benefits the politicians but the rest of us... not so much.

is one example of how individuals can come together, without benefit of the government (although they do often get tax writeoffs) to do something wonderful for a community. Maybe such will rise again to fund programs like Meals on Wheels which seems such a good thing for all the people-- not just the ones receiving the help. 

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