In his editorial, "In Hearing Deficit Alarms,
We Turn a Deaf Ear to Some Positive Points", Charles Wolf Jr.
is hearing a Siren's song for our economy, and humanity.
First, he asserts that "what matters is the
consolidated budgets of the states as well as the federal
government." However, the federal government is funded mostly
by progressive income taxes; but state governments, by
regressive sales taxes. It is as unwise as it is unfair to
effectively shift the burden of taxation from upper-income
savers to middle- and lower-income consumers: Every dollar a
business loses to sales tax is one more dollar it must borrow
and repay with interest to savings institutions.
Next, Mr. Wolf commends how "the federal
budget deficit exercises a braking effect on...pressures...for
government spending to rise." However, government cut-backs
have helped keep millions of our fellow citizens -- including
one of every five children -- in poverty; and malnutrition,
homelessness, illness, ignorance, and un- or (increasingly)
under-employment are both inhumane and unproductive. Not only
have "a thousand points of light" -- volunteerism -- proved woefully inadequate; but also, most upper-income
individuals contribute a lower share of their income to charity
than most middle- and lower-income individuals do: Regressive
revenue sources are indeed unwise and unfair.
Mr. Wolf does admit that "it is not
inappropriate to finance genuine and productive public
infrastructure by government borrowing." However, our
government has been giving a bigger slice of the pie to military
rather than domestic priorities; but the economy-stimulating "multiplier effect" of social programs is larger than that
of defense programs. Which in the long-run makes our nation more
formidable: Computers for "Star Wars" or computers for
Mr. Wolf does say that we should try "to
convey...the image of a responsible government that lives within
its means." How nice it would be if we were to live up to that "image".