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Tax Day- April 15, 2014

My guess is that most of us would prefer to have lower taxes and more of that money to spend on the things we want and need. Usually the concern is how the government (that is us) spends the tax dollars that we send in this time of the year. There always seem to be arguments about the high cost of welfare (aid to people in need), or what some call “entitlements” (even though Social Security and Medicare are paid for by our contributions to those funds). A part of the argument that is sometimes overlooked is the reality that a majority of the “aid” that we the people give out is what is often called “corporate welfare.” In the case of corporate welfare, instead of money going out of our treasury to pay for social services, money that is ordinarily owed to the government never comes into the treasury because special accommodations to “corporate need” have been put in place. The fact remains, however, that each form of “welfare” costs money. Generally, our government spends about 50% more on corporate welfare than on social welfare. Over Half (56%) of all corporate welfare goes to four industries: finance, utilities, telecommunications, and oil/gas/ & pipelines.

Most recently, our USA House and Senate spent $30 billion on extending unemployment benefits for a year, and $205 billion on corporate tax breaks, subsidies and excessive tax loopholes, mostly to corporations that have not paid any US income taxes in years.

So I would simply suggest that as we hear the critics argue that government assistance saps initiative and is unaffordable, we spend some time looking into the kinds of programs that may be doing just that. For example, did you know that we give welfare subsidies to owners of private planes and yachts, to private equity funds as well as to hedge funds, and continue to still give welfare to banks (currently $83 billion a year).

You can see that sometimes the full story is not being told. We talk about the unsustainability of government benefit programs and the harmful effects these can have on human behavior, and these are real issues. Well-meaning programs for supporting single moms can create negative incentives not to marry, or aid meant for a needy child may be misused to buy drugs. Helping people is a complex, uncertain, and imperfect struggle. But also think of this: we now have the wealthiest Congress in the history of our country in which a majority of members are millionaires. Perhaps that is why we are now having one-sided discussions demanding cuts only in public assistance to the poor, while ignoring public assistance to the rich. And one-sided discussions lead to one-sided and nearsighted policies. Please consider what is “Good for the People.”