Questions for Political True Believers, Part 2

This entry is part 23 of 47 in the series Blog1

July 10, 2012

Government Creating Problems

True Believer: So you think all taxes are slavery then?

 

Thinker: That’s not what I said. I stated that being taxed more than people are willing to pay is like forced labor, a prime ingredient of slavery. If you volunteer your labor for the benefit of the whole then this is not like slavery because you are freely giving of your time, but forced labor is another matter.

True Believer: So when is a tax forced labor in your mind and when is it voluntary?

 

Thinker: This is different in the minds of the individual and the group – or the country as a whole. No amount set will make all individuals happy so the criteria has to be set by the group involved.

True Believer: And who would that be?

 

Thinker: Ideally, it would be set by a consensus of those who actually pay the taxes. For instance, if your income level was willing, by consensus, to pay 10% federal income tax then that 10% would be voluntary by the group.  Anything over that would require force, a prime ingredient of slave labor.

True Believer: How about the almost 50% who do not pay federal income tax?  Should they have a say?

 

Thinker: No. The person who does not pay income tax generally doesn’t care how much others pay and most are willing to allow for tax increases that do not affect them, except they get more free stuff.  If those who do not pay taxes are able to tell those who do, how much they should pay, then they become the slave masters.

True Believer: That sounds a little harsh.

 

Thinker: Not as harsh as forcing another to work for him against his will. Let us suppose I had power to force you to work for me for one month out of the year.  During that month nothing you made would go to you or your family but just to me.  Wouldn’t that be harsh?

True Believer: Yes, but that’s not the way it is.

 

Thinker: It is the way the system works. People who do not pay income taxes use their voting influence to take money from those who do.

True Believer: But without this system the poor would not be helped.

 

Thinker: That is not true.  People as a whole support some type of safety net for the poor and are willing to pay for it, but they resent having money confiscated from them that they are not willing to pay.  You just agreed that it would be wrong to use slave labor for good works like building schoolhouses or helping the poor.  So why do you support using the slavery principle of forced labor so the government can do supposedly good works?

True Believer: I have a hard time equating the paying of high taxes with slavery.

 

Thinker: The problem here is you’re seeing slavery in black and white, as if one has to be owned by an individual taskmaster and bought and sold to be a slave.  My point is that the prime ingredient of all slavery is the power to force labor against a person’s will. If you are taxed beyond that which you are willing to pay then you are forced to work for this extra money to pay the taskmaster, which is the government. Wouldn’t you agree?

True Believer: I agree that many are taxed more than they want to pay but I wouldn’t call it slavery or the government a taskmaster.

 

Thinker: What do you call an entity who forces you to work for money against your will to pay for its spending?

True Believer: Government

 

Thinker: And how is the entity, called government, which forces extra labor upon us, different in principle from the slave master forcing labor upon the slave?

True Believer: He has no good answer but on one hand agrees that forced labor is immoral but force used by government is good as long as it is in a direction he agrees with.

 

Thinker: It sounds like you are fairly accepting of all the taxes the government places upon us even though the open and hidden taxes may amount to over 60%

True Believer: I don’t agree with every single thing our tax money is spent on but overall it goes for the public good so I support our government.

 

Thinker: I think we can both accept that few will ever agree with all government spending. That cannot be a criteria for our paying taxes.

True Believer: So what’s your problem with taxes then?

 

Thinker: There are several.  The average taxpayer feels he pays too much.  If we had a fair system the taxpayer wouldn’t feel like he is cheated and wouldn’t feel like he was compelled to pay more than he is willing.

True Believer: I agree it would be nice to pay fewer taxes but they are necessary to achieve all the benefits the government provides.

 

Thinker: If the government was efficient with our money and did indeed provide usable benefits for all I wouldn’t mind paying even higher taxes. But this is far from the case.

True Believer: How’s that?

 

Thinker: Take Medicare, for example.  Politicians claimed to want to implement it in the name of helping senior citizens receive health care. After it started in 1965, it seemed like a good idea to many, especially in consideration of the cost projections at the time. The public was sold on the idea that Medicare’s $3 billion cost in 1966 would only reach an inflation-adjusted $12.0 billion by 1990.  The actual cost in 1990 was a whopping $67 billion. The “experts” were off by 7.44 times. Total Medicare spending reached $440 billion for fiscal year 2007, or 16 percent of all federal spending. Since that time, spending has continued to rise. Would you call this budget busting an effective use of tax money?

True Believer: But medical costs have skyrocketed because of greed in private industry.

 

Thinker: Whatever greed there is in private industry after Medicare also existed before Medicare.  Human nature has not changed. The hard fact is that medical costs were reasonable before the government got involved

True Believer: How’s that?

 

Thinker: In 1958 when I was 13 I had an accident that put me in the hospital for a month. Guess how much I was charged per day for my room?

True Believer: You tell me.

 

Thinker: the cost was $8 a day.  The most expensive room in the hospital was $14 a day. These prices remained low like this until Medicare came into being. How much do you think $8 is today adjusted for inflation?

True Believer: Not sure

 

Thinker: The figure is $63.62. The price of gas in 1958 was 39.9 cents a gallon. Adjusted for inflation that equals $3.18. What was the price of gas the last time you filled up?

 

True Believer: Around $3.50

 

Thinker: And what’s the cost of a hospital room?

True Believer: It’s definitely higher than $63.62 per day.

 

Thinker:  Try around $4000.00 a day

True Believer: You may be right.  The prices are outrageous thanks to greedy insurance companies.

 

Thinker: But we had greedy insurance companies back in 1958.  What’s the main difference between now and 1958 as far as health care is concerned?

True Believer: I’m sure you have an answer.

 

Thinker: The answer is obvious. Before 1965, health care costs were determined by the free market like gasoline. When the government got involved prices skyrocketed but the government has not tried to help us with out fuel costs.  Consequently, the price of a gallon of gas has not changed much when adjusted for inflation but a day’s stay in the hospital is a different story. Instead of costing an inflation adjusted $63.68 you can expect to pay over 62 times that amount. If the price of gas had risen as much as medical costs how much would you be paying for a gallon of gas?

True Believer: Not sure.

 

Thinker: You’d be paying around $220 for a single gallon. Isn’t it amazing that people seem to complain more about the price of fuel than medical costs?

True Believer: You have a point there.

 

Thinker: So, do you think it is just a coincidence that medical costs began to skyrocket after the government tried to help us through Medicare?

True Believer: Could be.

 

Thinker: And is it also a coincidence that the government didn’t help us with our fuel costs but the cost of a gallon of gas has not changed much when adjusted for inflation?

True Believer: Its possible.

 

Thinker: And it’s possible you’ll win an $80 million dollar lottery tomorrow. These two results happening just by chance are in the same improbable category.

True Believer: I’m sure there are other reasons for out of control medical costs.

 

Thinker: Yes there are also a number of factors that influence the cost of a gallon of gasoline but the main difference is government interference. Government tried to help with medical costs by using our tax money.  Not only does this cost us money in taxes but an amazing amount when in need professional care. Tell me… If you had a money manager squander your money and cause your cost of living to go up 60 times would you use him again?

True Believer: No.

 

Thinker: Of course not.  The only way you would give him more money was if you were forced to. This is the situation of the taxpayer who sees what is actually happening.

True Believer: No response.

 

“`

Thinker: If you got ill and had to go to the hospital for several weeks, which situation would you rather be in?  My situation in 1958 where my bill was $8 (63.68 adjusted for inflation) a day with no insurance or today, having insurance, where your bill may be $4000 a day with a co-pay of $800?

True Believer: I might still choose today because medical advances.

 

Thinker: You may have a slight advantage today in some areas but I think we received just as good care back in those days as today in most instances.  I was in an explosion and had six operations altogether with a total of over three months in the hospital, between 1958-1961, and the care couldn’t have been much better, except for the food.  I understand it still isn’t that great.

True Believer: You’re probably right on the food.

 

Thinker: It is interesting to consider that before Medicare, insurance was more of a luxury than a necessity because even the poor could pay their hospital bills if they didn’t have insurance.

True Believer: That’s hard to believe.

 

Thinker: Well, I am living proof because when I had my accident we were about as poor as they come. My parents had just gotten a divorce after we lost everything we owned. We had no child support and our income came from picking fruit or minimum wage jobs. When not going to school I also picked fruit to help my mom make ends meet. My first stay in the hospital was for a month and we paid that off along with the doctor bill, by picking fruit, minimum wage jobs and I also mowed lawns.  So tell me this… How can a deserted mother and son with no insurance pay off a bill picking fruit and mowing lawns in 1958 but such people couldn’t pay for even one day in a hospital today?

True Believer: Things have changed, I guess.

 

Thinker: But something made them change.  What?

True Believer: Not sure.

 

Thinker: The cost of gas and other commodities have not gone up much more than inflation but the cost of a day in the hospital has gone up over 60 times or 6000%.  There has to be a reason beyond the higher cost of technology. Technology has made just about everything else cheaper.

True Believer: I’m sure there are a lot of factors. I’ll have to look into it.

 

Thinker: And when you do you’ll discover that the only reason you can put a finger on is the unhelpful aid that Uncle Sam tried to give us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be as efficient as they were before Medicare where even a fruit picker with no insurance could pay his own hospital bill?

True Believer: You said you were in the hospital for a total of three months. How’d you pay for the other two?

 

Thinker: My mom got help from a private charity who paid for the other two months in the hospital in addition to the specialist who did the surgery. Wouldn’t it be great if private charities could afford to pay for months in the hospital and multiple surgeries?

True Believer: Charities do help some, especially kids with cancer.

 

Thinker: True, but they are very limited because of the cost. My last four surgeries and two months in the hospital were not that important for me and were elective and just made a small improvement. Even so, the charity seemed almost eager to help us and had plenty of money to pay the bills. Can you imagine a world where just about all can afford a hospital stay with their own money and do not need the government but can use charities if specialty work is needed?

True Believer: That world is gone. Things have changed.

 

Thinker: People’s thinking and mindsets have changed but principles and economics have not. If we returned to the free market principles we had then medical costs would become affordable again.

True Believer: I doubt that.

 

Thinker: Of course you do because this goes against what you have been told. What do you think we need to do to lower costs.

True Believer: Get rid of greedy profits and go on a single payer program with the government in charge.

 

Thinker: So you trust the entity that created to problem to solve the problem?

True Believer: I wouldn’t word it that way.

 

Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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Series Navigation<< Questions for Political True Believers, Part 1Questions for Political True Believers, Part 3 >>

Comments

  1. Super jaezzd about getting that know-how.

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