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Fletcher: What are you willing to give up?

October 16, 2012
Stephen Fletcher , The Alpena News

There is a push going on in the country to reduce the number of loopholes in the U.S. Tax Code, a document of approximately 4,500 pages. Eliminating tax loopholes theoretically results in more federal revenue.

Americans seem pretty much in agreement that we shouldn't have so many tax loopholes and "special interest groups" get most of the benefit from them. I'm fine with eliminating them all.

Let's start with the deductibility of mortgage interest. I no longer have a mortgage so I don't have a vested interest in that deduction. Next, let's dump the interest deduction on purchases like automobiles. My SUV has 106,000 miles and is paid for so I say let's dump the interest deduction. How about that deduction for having dependents around the house? We have two dogs who are better behaved than most kids and we don't get a deduction for them so what the heck, let's get rid of that one too.

I only make these outlandish suggestions to make a point. When it comes to taxes, we often follow the adage "Don't tax you and don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree."

To us, our deductions are very reasonable. It is everyone else who is ripping off government with their deductions.

I'm not too concerned about deductions in general because the economic problem isn't so much with them, but rather it is because we have no economic growth to offset rapidly expanding social programs. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security take up 100 percent of the U.S. tax revenue. We can eliminate all deductions, but we still would have a deficit.

Our only solution is to fix the social programs mentioned above, and then address the tax code. In business we attack the largest problem first and work our way down to the smaller ones. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have to be fixed first.

The answer is to raise eligibility ages, increase contributions of individuals and benefits must be capped. Nobody presently receiving Social Security would be affected because Congress lacks the intestinal fortitude to mess with you and me.

Politics is the art of the possible. Just as you are going to cling to your entitlements, I'm going to cling to mine. We are part of the problem as to why Congress and the president are in gridlock. If you want change, what are you willing to give up?

There are about 45,000,000 people in this country living at the poverty level or below. There are also about 45,000,000 people in this country with Intelligence Quotients of 70 or below. There is overlap I'm sure, but I've never seen a statistic as to how much commonality there is between these groups.

My point is that these folks, who by any standard require extra help, need to be considered and assisted.

There are another 160,000,000 citizens, however, who like me get some kind of benefit from the government. Remember, President Obama paid (or, shall I say you the taxpayer paid) for one half of my electric ATV and 35 percent of my solar panels at my hunting camp. Those tax loopholes were there and I took advantage of them.

There are a large number of people in this country who are taking advantage of government programs who don't need the help. Their names are "you" and "me." We take advantage of these programs because the program eligibility is flawed, but until we are willing to give up the legal benefits ourselves, should we change the system? After all, "Your freedom ends where mine begins."

If we are to concentrate only on those at the poverty level and those with very low IQs, then there are about 115,000,000 people who will have their income redistributed.

You are thinking that this sounds quite Draconian. Maybe we should just tax the "fellow behind the tree." Unfortunately, that "fellow" views you as the one behind the tree. Perception becomes reality.

Maybe we as a nation have become so self-centered and diverse that America just doesn't work as a concept any longer.



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