Sunday, April 17, 2011

Give It Back

Looking at the worldwide state of governance, with yawning deficits testifying to ineptitude and corruption virtually everywhere, I think we've gone beyond the point at which we should be asking our leaders to balance their damn checkbooks.

We should be demanding our money back.

Just check out the United States, now in its third year under the most disappointing political figure of my lifetime. (Sure, Bush was a disaster, but who in her right mind expected anything else?) After more than two years of Obama, it's achingly clear that Pete Townshend of the Who made the most universally prescient political statement of the 20th century in the song, "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Meet the new boss, Pete said, same as the old boss.

Or, to paraphrase Calvin Coolidge, "The business of America is business as usual."  No matter who's in the White House.

I want my tax money returned personally to me because it's obvious that the people (regardless of party) who are running my country, and probably your country, too, have absolutely no fricking idea how to spend it.  A few specific examples.

I want all my social security payments back, with interest. Social Security is not an "entitlement."  It's a compulsive, life-long, interest-free loan to the goverment, who promised solemnly to save it for when I needed it . . .

. . . and then spent it.  And now they say they (by which they mean we) can't "afford" Social Security.  Fine.  Give me my damn money back.

I want my share of the $450 billion spent for a redundant second engine on a fighter plane that's not even being produced.  To the Tea Party's credit, they tried to red-line this expense, but the effort was too late.  And say what you like about the Tea Party because, yes, some of them are as crazy as coots, but they're the only political group in living memory to actually attempt to cut defense spending.

I want my share of the estimated $900,000 it took the federal government to convict Barry Bonds on one of four charges arising from steroid use.  All I can say is, you know those guys and girls in the banks, insurance agencies, and investment houses, the ones  who brought down the economy and stole billions in the process?  Well, it's a good thing none of them used steroids.  Their ass would be grass by now.

And while I'm on the topic, I want back my share of the billions in bail-out funds that were given to these same banks, insurance companies, and investment houses.  Just count out my bucks and mail them to my house.

Oh, and on another front, I'd like my share of the half a billion dollars given by the federal government for the expansion of a California solar panels maker.  The Big O himself praised this one, which was to encourage "our independence from foreign oil" (one of my favorite political catchphrases) while "building green jobs."  (That's another one.)  Trouble is, the company banked the money, looked at its business plan, checked the price of solar panels made in China, and abandoned its expansion.  And the money?  What money?

I'd like one hundred percent of the one-thousandth of a cent of my tax dollars that's being spent on the salary, health care, and retirement of the TSA worker who gave the full, intrusive pat-down to a six-year-old girl a few days ago in New Orleans.  I'll risk allowing a few six-year-old female terrorists to bring their bombs aboard.

Billions wasted on unbuilt projects in Iraq.  Hundreds of millions wasted (and pocketed by corrupt politicians) in post-Katrina Louisiana.  I could go on with this literally for days, but you've all got better things to do.  I'm a modest guy, but I'd like to think this post will be the beginning of a global movement in which taxpayers say GIVE IT BACK.  Not "oh, all right, tax us some more" or "be more responsible" or "spend it better," because today's governments won't and can't do any of those things.

No, let's put it simply.  GIVE IT BACK.


  1. Tim,

    This is without question the most thought provoking editorial I've read in a very long time. Very well said. And in a tip of the hat to the late Sidney Lumet, "I'm mad as hell, GIVE IT BACK" is what should be shouted these days.


  2. Hi Tim,

    I'm in the African bush right now so my blood pressure is at normal levels. But it shot up again reading your post. I was speechless when Obama won; I lost money to Stan on it. I couldn't believe the US would really elect a black president. My natural pessimism was washed away in a flood of warm optimism.


    Why vote AGAINST the Iraq war (one of the few senators not taken in by the Bush smoke and mirrors) and still be there 4 years later? And not only that, Afghanistan - a side show before - has become a black hole for money and American lives. No one ever wins in Afghanistan! And now Libya? Well, I understand, it's all about protecting civilians. Nothing to do with oil, of course. Unlike Zimbabwe where civilians are well treated by their government (but don't have oil...) I'd ask for my money back on these adventures too if I was a US tax payer!

    Yours pessimistically (again)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Reposting - deletion was due to a spelling error.

    I said, more or less, that when the people lose faith in their leaders, the leaders are in trouble, but when they lose faith in the system the whole country is in trouble.

    I've seen a lot of this around the last few years, and it worries me.

  5. Tim, you never sign your posts, but I knew this was you. You always make me think! I can imagine a good government, but I don't think there has ever actually been one. Human beings seem to be a huge evolutionary mistake. We have over-evolved and over-reproduced and swarmed all over this gorgeous planet like vermin, acting like we are in charge and screwing up wherever we go. On an individual basis, however, we can be magnificent. The best we can do is enjoy that. Make a pie and eat it with friends. Make love, not war. Make art, not politics. For me, I stuck my head in the fictional past during Bush1 and have found it a healthier place to remain than the actual present. I am really glad, however, that the president is black. It makes for a nice change of scene!

  6. Hi, everybody --

    I wrote a really (REALLY) long response to all of you but the Blogger software ate it. Thanks to all of you for commenting, and I really do think -- in response to Igor, especially, that it's actually a good thing when people lose faith in their governments. Too much faith in government is always misplaced. It was only about 50 years ago that Americans, led by their children, forced their government out of Vietnam, and here we are, in three profitless wars, twelve trillion dollars in debt, doing pat-downs on six-year-olds in the name of national security. American government, like most of the world's governments, seems to me to have gone far astray, and it's up to us to force it back on track.

    Annamaria, I love your recommendations for daily life. I also believe that conscious living, maintaining an awareness of our blessings, is the least that we owe. But I also think that we should be activists when the wrong things are done in our name.