Should those who claim to despise entitlements be entitled to use our roads, and expect police and fire protection?
Virtually every adult in America pays taxes. If they work, they pay the IRS withholding taxes which fund Social Security and Medicare. They pay withholding to fund Unemployment Insurance. Most never see this, because it’s taken out of their pay before their employer cuts their paycheck, but they are paying it. In addition, most pay sales taxes, and for the working poor this takes a good chunk out of their total income because most of what they earn is spent on taxable things. All Americans pay gasoline excise taxes. Even if they don’t own a car, that tax is figured into the delivery charges for everything they consume that they don’t create themselves. They pay excise taxes on alcohol if they drink, and on tobacco if they use it. They pay property taxes if they own housing and through a portion of their rent if they live in rented housing. They pay taxes to their state. Even if they earn so little that they escape direct state taxes, they pay in the form of licensing and registration fees if they own a car, or those fees on the vehicles used to deliver their goods even if they don’t own a car. They pay their city in fees tacked on to basic city services. When they buy anything, both corporate taxes and employee taxes are factored into its cost because the maker of the goods, the distributor, and the retailer all have to pay taxes and pay their employees well enough that they can survive after paying their taxes.
These taxes “entitle” us to certain things that are better delivered by government. A perfect example is fire protection. We could privatize fire protection and expect every property owner to privately contract with some for-profit business that would provide their fire protection. But how might that work out? What if their property caught fire while they weren’t there to call their contractor? How would their neighbors, or a casual passerby know which fire protection corporation to call? And what about those who would decide to save money by betting their property won’t catch fire? If it does, and no fire protection corporation will put it out, on a windy day it could easily result in a firestorm that would destroy many city blocks or at worst case the whole city, as in the Great Chicago Fire. So we all pay taxes and we are entitled to fire protection because it is better delivered by government, not private, for-profit businesses.
It’s certainly legitimate to debate what is and isn’t best delivered by government. But to claim that government is inferior to private enterprise in every area is absurd and false. And to brand seniors who collect Social Security and Medicare after paying for them throughout an entire lifetime of working as feckless parasites who are “sucking on the public teat” is as ridiculous as it would be to say that someone paying a healthcare insurer for decades without ever filing a claim is suddenly abusing the for-profit insurer because they developed cancer and are now drawing on what they have so long paid to receive.
Romney said, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax.”
Lest someone claim this is taken out of context, here is the film of the entire fundraiser speech. There is no spin involved. You can watch and listen to him in his own words telling us what he believes in his core.
So my question is, if he honestly believes that paying taxes entitles a person to nothing in government services, should he be entitled to use the roads that taxes build for him, and to fire, police, and secret service protection paid for by taxes? Should his private jets be “entitled” to Air Traffic Control direction and have a right to land or take off from airports he didn’t personally pay to build? Why does he not live by his stated beliefs?