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Taxpayers' money

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Voievod Posted: Tue, Aug 5 2008 7:39 AM

This is a topic on semantics and I will shortly argue that the expression "Taxpayer's money" is flawed.

- It's too soft and doesn't express reality.

- If it's my money, then why can't I choose not to entrust it to the state? If I can't do whatever I want with it, it's not really my money, is it?

- It sounds as if "the taxpayers" suddenly decided to entrust their own money to someone, which is not the case.

- Some taxpayers might have decided to do that a couple of hundred years ago, but now they're all dead. Several generations have passed since. On what conceivable basis are we still in the contract? On what conceivable basis are unborn children (future generations) forced to obey the contract?

- The accusation "activity X wastes Taxpayer's money" should be read "activity X wastes money extorted at gunpoint". In reality, the "wasting" part is just the lesser evil.



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fsk replied on Tue, Aug 5 2008 8:54 AM

This is a topic on semantics and I will shortly argue that the expression "Taxpayer's money" is flawed.

This is the essence of the "Agent-Principal" problem.  Congress controls the Federal budget, but they don't actually own it.  However, they frequently treat the Federal budget as if it were their personal property.

Consider two scenarios:

  1. A Congressman directly writes himself a check for $1 billion.
  2. In exchange for $10 million of lobbyist contributions or kickbacks, a Congressman grants a $1 billion pork project.  For example, the person receiving the pork project hires the Congressman's relative at a high salary.

The first is blatantly illegal.  The second happens all the time.  Is there a distinction?

Congress stole the tax money fair and square.  Now, they may spend it as they please.  If you don't like it, go start your own government.

Similarly, the CEO of a corporation controls its resources, even though he doesn't technically own them.  What prevents the CEO from giving himself and his friends high option/stock grants and huge salaries?  If you don't like it, start your own competing business.  You can't, because of State restrictions on the market.

I have my own blog at FSK's Guide to Reality. Let me know if you like it.

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