America had a better system of government 100 years ago than it does today, and more importantly, a SMALLER government. If a person does a comparison, you might come to a quick conclusion that I'm right.
For example, a century ago we did not have the federal income tax. Prior to 1913, Americans were free of the grips of the IRS that now steals trillions of dollars annually from productive, hardworking American families, and re-distributes the wealth to literally thousands of social programs including billions in foreign aid. A century ago, the United States had absolutely ZERO national debt, now projected to be almost $3 trillion over the next 10 years.
A century ago, America had the largest middle class in the world and Moms could afford to stay at home and raise the kids (even up to the 1950's, just before Lyndon Johnson's disastrous and wasteful "War on Poverty"). A century ago, government (public) schools began to eat away at the highly successful private K-12 system that had standards equivalent to today's universities. For proof of this, read one of the tests given to high school seniors at the turn of the 20th Century, and compare it to today's 8th grade level graduating qualifying exam required of 12th graders (that many can't even pass).
Another classic example is the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio, who gave us the modern world in the form of the airplane. They invented flight without one dime of government tax money while Professor Langley was miserably failing with huge government subsidies trying to create a flying machine of his own. The Wright's built their own wind tunnel, figured out the best angles for wings and propellers, tested their work themselves and gave the world flight. The government took money and gave us nothing.
America in 2004 is a bountiful land with numerous technological marvels that have made our lives the best in history. Think how much better it would be if government did not interfere as much as it has over the last 100 years with horrendous taxation, tens of thousands of laws, rules, regulations and controls that restrict free enterprise and suppress people's creativity and ingenuity. State Legislatures and Congress have simply been out of control since the Progressive Era.
Western states of Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska all are running Promethean deficits, because politicians cannot control their spending appetites. They squander like drunken sailors, unconcerned about tomorrow. Congress, the leader of this mess, is even worse. Led by the President, they have out spent every past administration in the history of the U.S. and are pushing us toward bankruptcy. Bush has not vetoed a single bill in over two years in office.
All the egregious things government does to us as a people, like the recent Patriot Act, have placed us further under the thumb of big government. Violations to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Amendments are yanking our freedoms out from beneath us. Yesterday in my office, a bureaucrat from the Federal Department of Transportation in Seattle stopped by to promote Alaska's proposed seat belt law, giving cops more authority. While well meaning, he was unable to conceive that his work goes against the virtues of freedom and individual liberty, and places even more controls in the hands of government and the police. I can hear the ratchets moving slowly, methodically, monotonously and cruelly, depriving us of our freedoms.
2004 could have looked like what 2075 probably will. We would likely be much more advanced as a society if it weren't for government interference. We probably would have a cure for cancer, colonized the planet Mars, human bodies that routinely live healthy well beyond 100 years, and a standard of living for everyone quadruple of what it currently is. All the various potential cures for diseases that have been sprouting up around the world are occurring much slower than they should. This has made patients, especially cancer patients, very angry and frustrated with the overly timid FDA.
If we extrapolate how fast we proceeded technologically from the 19th to the 20th Century, but then removed the huge government influence and control, we would have remained a true beacon and leader to the world as we were for our first century.
The West, especially the U.S., has advanced much further under Laissez Faire, where we went from an empty continent with covered wagons, to high tech 747's in less than 100 years. This happened in a FREE society, not in places like Afghanistan or Bulgaria where no freedom exists. Take advanced medicine for example. Canada, with its vaunted socialized medicine, has proven to be a medical failure. Our neighbor has very few CAT Scans for diagnostic analysis. Yet across the border, 20 miles away in the small community of Bellingham, Washington, there are three. Because of government control, medicine has to be rationed in Canada and people stand in lines. That's why they stream across the border into the U.S. to seek medical help.
The biggest problem over the last 100 years has been taxes. The following is a list of typical taxes, listed alphabetically, that most Americans are now subject to, making them much poorer at the expense of a big and wasteful government:
- Accounts Receivable Tax
- Building Permit Tax
- Capital Gains Tax
- Car Rental Tax
- CDL license Tax
- Corporate Income Tax
- Dog License Tax
- Education Tax
- Federal Income Tax
- Federal Unemployment Tax
- Fishing License Tax
- Food License Tax
- Fuel permit tax
- Gasoline Tax
- Hunting License Tax
- Inheritance Tax
- Inventory Tax
- Liquor Tax
- Local Income Tax
- Marriage License Tax
- Medicare Tax
- Property Tax
- Real Estate Tax
- Septic Permit Tax
- Service Charge Taxes
- Social Security Tax
- Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
- Sales Taxes
- Recreational Vehicle Tax
- School Tax
- State Income Tax
- State Unemployment Tax
- Tobacco Tax
- Telephone Federal Excise Tax
- Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
- Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
- Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
- Telephone Recurring and Non-Recurring Charges Tax
- Telephone State and Local Tax
- Telephone Usage Charge Tax
- Tire Tax
- Trailer Registration Tax
- Utilities Tax
- Vehicle Registration Tax
- Watercraft Registration Tax
- Well Permit Tax
- Workers Compensation Tax
Forty-seven total taxes! The important thing to note is that NONE of these existed 100 years ago (or if some did, they were so small that they were almost non existent). Yet our nation was by far the most prosperous in the world and the envy of everyone. Look at the millions who fled other countries and immigrated to America around the turn of the 20th Century seeking a better life. My family was a part of that, immigrating from Germany and Lithuania in the early 1900's. Did they come here to be taxed? NO!
Closer to home, look at what's happening right here in Alaska. It's obvious we haven't learned from mistakes of the past, and unfortunately seem destined to repeat them. Last session, the Governor signed into law a host of new taxes, and called them "user fees." The Anchorage Daily News has made fun of that and is right. The taxes were as follows:
- Car Rental Tax
- Recreational Vehicle Tax
- Tire Tax
- Business License Fee (Tax) Increase
- Vehicle Registration Fee (Tax) Increase
This is not the end of it. Taxes proposed this session include:
- Income tax
- Sales Tax
- Education Tax
- Tobacco Tax
- Tourism Tax
These measures will slow the progress of our state and society by discouraging productivity, creativity and entrepreneurship. The real beneficiaries will be government bureaucrats and special interest groups, who will be handed money stolen from the public through the force of law.
Further, history has proven repeatedly that you can't tax yourself into prosperity. The opposite occurs when taxes are CUT, proven in the early 1960's and early 1980's when our national economy boomed.
Why can't bureaucrats look to Washington State and see how their government is starting to respond appropriately by encouraging private enterprise? Governor Gary Locke dramatized that the private sector works better than big government as he tried to get the Boeing 7E7 built in his state. He bent over backwards to free the company from excessive government controls and taxes. Boeing decided to build the 7E7 in Everett, Washington.
If it works at that level as Governor Locke has acknowledged, then why not expand the same concept everywhere else through all levels of government? If cutting taxes advances commerce, then why not cut taxes for everyone involved? Why can't politicians see the principle involved here?
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Vic Kohring, a Republican, represents Wasilla and the Mat-Su in the Alaska State Legislature.