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The great American Tax Machine

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By The Staff

The American people can hear it coming. They can hear its massive engine revving up in the distance. It doesn’t guzzle gas, but it does have a voracious appetite — for your money.

That’s right, it’s the Great American Tax Machine and it’s on the way. There’s seemingly little that can be done to stop it. In fact, the machine has already pillaged places like California, Ohio and New York City. It is just a matter of time before it rolls through where you live.

There’s nothing really great about the American Tax Machine except in reference to the ever-expanding size of government. So, if you drop the “great” it becomes American Tax Machine, which could be easily translated to ATM, because that’s how government on all levels is preparing to treat the American taxpayer — like a cash machine where politicians can make instant withdrawals via payroll deduction, income taxes, property taxes, etc.

But there’s a surly discontent roiling across the American landscape. Spawned by the sour economy, the millions upon millions of perpetually unemployed, and the seemingly insatiable spending habits of government on virtually any level; Americans are disenthralled with wasteful spending, the burgeoning and ever more intrusive nature of government, and most importantly, the politicians who brought about the current state of our union.

Anecdotally, one could point to the outcome of this week’s election in Los Alamos County as evidence of voter sentiment. The fact that the electorate opted to retain a tax already in existence for public schools while rejecting a new tax for higher education certainly says it was very much a pocketbook issue for voters, but it also telegraphed a political message as well.

The vote was not aagainst higher education, but it was against new higher taxes. That assumption is grounded in the results of a survey conducted for the county in early December. The most common reason for voting against the UNM-LA issue was “by far” because “taxes are already too high” or that the voter was opposed to higher taxes, according to the survey conducted by Southwest Planning and Marketing.

Those results in Los Alamos are merely a microcosm of voter sentiment that is resoundingly rejecting tax increases in a down economy. Voters are just as likely this year to eject incumbent politicians who exhibit a habitual free-spending mentality—regardless of party affiliation. 

A cause celebre was the recent Senate race in Massachusetts — the bluest of blue states. As Republican Scott Brown handily thumped his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley, Americans simultaneously began to feel as though they had somehow regained control; there was a renewed sense of optimism that out of control government can indeed be reigned in.

If government at any level is allowed to grow unfettered while wallowing in pork barrel spending and waste, then the politicians running that government should expect to pay the price when it comes time for re-election. Governments should not even contemplate their own growth in a recessionary economy – especially on the backs of the taxpayer. 

In fact, just the opposite should be happening all the way from Congress to the Roundhouse; legislators should be cutting the size of government, eliminating questionable spending, and making certain services have been slashed to the bare minimum before ever entertaining raising taxes. A problem for many who govern is that few have ever run a business, and even fewer, it would appear, have a basic understanding of economics. 

In this year of discontent, politicians would do well to listen to their constituents. Those who ignore the voice of the people, do so at their own political peril.