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Quit asking me for my money


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Published on: Thursday, February 07, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

Last week I confronted a local politician, who believes taxes must be raised in the state in order to purchase more Metro Rail cars, provide more support for the poor and pay for other state projects.

Among the reasons I was given for the need of this money is the simple fact the richest citizens in Montgomery County are able to avoid paying excessive property taxes because they no longer claim their homes in the county as their primary residence.

“What happen to your liberal values?” I was pointedly asked.

Since I had already been accused of being a “Pinko Communist” and a member of the “Tea Party” within the same 24-hour span, I must confess I took the latest accusation with a stoic continence and a flat look on my heavily weathered face.

I am not a liberal. I’m not a conservative. I’m not a Republican nor do I like the Democrats. I think the Tea Party members sit at home with tinfoil hats on and the Libertarians, while speaking common sense on some issues, are generally the worst dressed and worst smelling of the lot.

Grouch Marx is quoted as saying, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

That’s probably the reason I do not claim to be a member of any political party.

Not any more.

I used to believe in many of the principles the Democrats used to espouse. The emphasis is on the past tense in that sentence.

John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address spelled it out wisely, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Today’s sense of entitlement has destroyed this fine sentiment. What the local politician wants me to do is to blindly give from my pocket while he finds new ways to inefficiently spend my money and often times on people who ask what they can get from our government.

Of course we all want new Metro Rail cars. Of course we all want to help the poor. But many of us also want the government to spend our money much more efficiently than it currently does.

More to the point, while we want to help the poor, we want to adhere to the biblical idea of teaching a man to fish rather than just giving him fish.

To illustrate this point, I bought my oldest son a bicycle when he was younger. It was gone within two months – first damaged when he wrecked it and later permanently lost when he left it somewhere. To this day he knows not where. When he asked me for a second bike I told him to earn the money himself and purchase a new one.

He began cutting grass, got the money and ultimately purchased and cared for the bike – which has survived to this day.

He learned a valuable lesson. You never truly appreciate something unless you earn it.

Much to that point we should assist the poor. We should tax the rich more than the middle class and much more than the lower class. But we have to get government to work much more efficiently. Thomas Jefferson is often credited with saying, “The government governs best which governs least,” and while the quote may actually belong to Henry David Thoreau or even someone else, the sentiment is most assuredly American.

The trouble is we do not adhere to the very sound reasoning of our past today.

The trouble lies in ourselves, of course, and is manifested in our deplorable idea of politics.

Instead of attracting the best and brightest to politics, we have the shallow end of the gene pool arguing about religion, evolution and whether or not our President is a “real man”.

None of this is the responsibility of our government. The politicians are there to provide us with some semblance of order, a fire department, a police department, roads and national protection.

So, cut out most of it, go back to what works and leave my wallet alone.

What can I do for my country? I try every day to do it.

Next.

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