04/15/08 — Tax perspective: Today’s the day to think about what government costs you

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Tax perspective: Today’s the day to think about what government costs you

Today is the day all Americans dread — especially those who do not have a tax refund coming.

Tax day is when Americans of all sorts finally realize that it costs money to run the government — and just how much of theirs is being put into the pot.

Even if you get a refund, the numbers are staggering — just take a look at what percentage of your paycheck actually heads off to the federal and state governments. It will make your head spin. And if you really want to have to sit down and deep breathe, think about sales taxes, ad valorem taxes and property taxes — more of your contributions to the public good.

So, on this most momentous of days, it is appropriate to think hard about where you want your money to go and how much you want your government to spend.

Pick too little and you have more deficits.

Pick too much and that refund you got this year might be a thing of the past next year.

Every single candidate on every ticket at the state, local and federal levels has a line in his or her platform about making life easier for working Americans.

They talk about the need for more social programs, improved health care offerings and other ideas for getting more children to school and college.

And while their motives might be wonderful — who doesn’t want to see more children with great grades and bright futures and all Americans with some sort of health care plan — there is one really big piece of information that no one seems to really want to talk about.

You guessed it. The real, unanswered elephant in the room is: Who is going to pay for all of this?

Want to guess?

It is easy for candidates to talk about a new America and to call for improvements to the nation’s health care, education and other programs. Talk is cheap.

But as we review their positions and ferret out their records, we need to think about what their programs and possible solutions will cost those of us who will be paying the bills — and if we think their investments will be wise choices.

And while we are at it, we might as well figure out a couple ways to measure that effectiveness.

Paying taxes is a necessary evil of being a citizen of a country. Contributing is our duty.

But sending a never-ending flow of dollars with no mechanism for evaluating the results is just plain reckless — and a great way to watch that treasured refund disappear in a puff of bureaucratic smoke.

Published in Editorials on April 15, 2008 10:48 AM