Aren’t you glad that today is April 15th? Have you paid your taxes yet? The answer to that is yes, you have paid your taxes. Every time you got your paycheck, you were also paying your taxes since they were withheld from you automatically. But have you filed your tax return yet? The good news is that the due date for tax filing this year is April 18th. TGIF!

For your entertainment, here are two videos. The first comes from ReasonTV about why you should pay your taxes.

Failure to pay taxes leads to Obama!

The next comes from Disney Studios as part of the war effort. Can you spot what really dates this cartoon? Hint: it’s not the anti-German or anti-Japanese stand.

What dates this cartoon is the discussion of saving money so taxes can be paid four times a year: March 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and December 15th. Because of the need for ready cash, tax collection was changed during World War II from quarterly payments to automatic deductions from the people’s paychecks. There is an unfortunate side effect of automatic payroll deductions, as explained by a government article:

Another important feature of the income tax that changed was the return to income tax withholding as had been done during the Civil War. This greatly eased the collection of the tax for both the taxpayer and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. However, it also greatly reduced the taxpayer’s awareness of the amount of tax being collected, i.e. it reduced the transparency of the tax, which made it easier to raise taxes in the future.

The top income tax rate rose from 68% in 1940 to 88% in 1942 to an astounding 94% in 1944. What sort of incentive does a hard-working business owner have to spend more time in the office or expand his business if his reward is the joy of being allowed to keep a mere six cents out of every dollar he earns? “But the rich should pay more than they already do! After all, they can afford it!” Yes, I have heard this cry from liberals. And most of the time they demand that “the rich” should pay more taxes. Rarely do liberals call for their own taxes to go up, but sometimes it happens. Author Stephen King asked a rally in Florida, “As a rich person, I pay 28 percent tax… what I want to ask you is, why am I not paying 50?”

That’s a good question. Why isn’t he paying more? If he really wants to pay more in taxes, nothing’s stopping him from voluntarily giving more money to the government. Does he need the heavy hand of government to force him (and everyone else, regardless of their personal inclinations) to pay more taxes?

Based on his own words, I guess he does. But he certainly doesn’t speak for me.

Here are two good videos dealing with stimulus spending and Keynesian economics. The first video comes from January 2009 about Pres. Obama’s stimulus plan. Daniel Mitchell clearly specifies how the stimulus will not work, and now drawing close to two years later, we see that the stimulus spending did not help the nation, as proved by our flagging economy and stagnant unemployment rates.

The second video was produced by Daniel Mitchell again a month earlier than the previous video, but this time he is talking specifically about why Keynesian economic theories don’t work.

Albert Einstein is attributed with the following quote that clearly describes this administration and anyone who advocates government spending to “prime the pump” of the economy: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Keynesian economics has never worked, but that doesn’t stop governments from trying it again and again. “This time,” the government tells us, “it’s going to work.” Certainly sounds like insanity to me.

I’ve written before about our government’s problem with the economy, as witnessed by their mistaken belief that the government can spend the nation back into productivity. Part of this belief is that there exists some magical multiplier of government spending. The theory goes something like this: when the government spends a dollar on some project, the effect on the economy is greater than the original dollar. It magically multiplied!

As theories go, it’s fine. The problem happens when the ivory-towered Gedankenexperiment is tried in the real world. I’ll simplify this to make it clear: three people, Peter, Paul, and George are the citizens of Madeupistan. To stimulate the economy, George takes $10 from Peter and gives it to Paul. Wealth has not been created, it’s only been transferred since Peter is now $10 poorer and Paul is $10 richer. The net effect on the economy is $0. And this is the best case scenario.

What really happens is far worse. George takes $10 from Peter and gives $4 to Paul. George pockets the other $6 as his handling fee. And as long as George takes money from Peter to give to Paul, both George and Paul are happy with the outcome. Any election or referendum on finances in Madeupistan pass with 66% of the vote as George and Paul are solidly behind the stimulus spending. Peter keeps voting against having his money taken away from him to fund George and Paul, but he’s in the minority, and so he loses. George starts keeping $7 from the money taken from Peter since he has to pay for the increased advertisements needed to demonize the evil greedy rich Peter. Paul doesn’t like getting only $3 when he was getting $4 before and was used to it, so he petitions George to increase the rate of fiscal confiscation from Peter. Eventually Peter gets fed up with having his money seized, so he moves to Freedonia, taking his business and money with him. George then starts eyeing Paul as the new source of stimulus funds.

Policy wonks and university intellectuals love the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, but Keynesian economics just don’t work in the real word. When the government “stimulates” the economy with spending, it does so with money first taken from the people, or with freshly-printed money that is taken from future generations. And in either case, the government keeps some of the money to pay for the process of transferring the money. And the net result isn’t a magical multiplier increasing the wealth and economy of the nation; it’s a unmagical divider doing the opposite. But government will continue to push for Keynesian economics because they get their cut of the money, and they get to say who receives the money and reap the political benefits of their largesse.

If the government wanted to truly stimulate the economy, it would get out of the way by reducing taxes on corporations and people. And this isn’t some wild speculation or untried theory in Madeupistan. It has worked every time it has been tried in the real world.

Back in the late ’80s, Leona Helmsley was brought to trial and convicted of multiple tax violations. During the trial a former housekeeper, Elizabeth Baum, testified that she heard Helmsley say, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Helmsley denied having said that, but she will own that quote for as long as she is remembered.

And I remembered that quote when I read a distressing news report out of the Los Angeles Times this morning:

But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama’s very own White House owe the government they’re allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess.

In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total of $6,524,892. In the Senate, 217 owe $2,774,836. In the IRS’ parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814. At the Labor Department, where Secretary Hilda Solis’ husband had some back-tax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors owe $1,076,733.

Over at the Justice Department, which is so busy enforcing other laws and suing Arizona, 1,971 employees still owe $14,350,152 in overdue taxes.

Then, we come to the Department of Homeland Security, which is run by Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona who preferred to call terrorist acts “man-caused disasters.” Homeland Security is keeping all of us safe by ensuring that a Dutch tourist is aboard every inbound international flight to thwart any would-be bomber with explosives in his underpants.

Within that department, there reside 4,856 people who owe the tax agency a whopping total of $37,012,174.

And why should they worry about paying their taxes when the department in charge of gathering taxes is led by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy “Oh, you mean this $42,000 in unpaid taxes” Geithner?

As one of the little people who pays his taxes on time and in full, I object to having thousands of tax scofflaws in government. They are not our betters; they work for you and me, and they should obey the same laws we do. Anyone who can’t should be fired immediately and see what it’s like to work in the real world.

The following story caught my eye:

40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth

A little over a year after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett began hatching a plan over dinner to persuade America’s wealthiest people to give most of their fortunes to charity, more than three-dozen individuals and families have agreed to take part, campaign organizers announced Wednesday.

In addition to Buffett and Gates — America’s two wealthiest individuals, with a combined net worth of $90 billion, according to Forbes — 38 other billionaires have signed The Giving Pledge. They include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, film director George Lucas and investor Ronald Perelman.

Combined, the 40 billionaires will donate $115 billion to their favorite charities. Their billions will touch and bless the lives of so many people, and it will all be made possible because of their industry. A poor farmer in Bangladesh may make the same pledge, but his meager money will not have the same scope as the wealth of a billionaire. Having large amounts of money grants a person the ability to greatly bless people’s lives. And the billionaires’ pledge is very laudable.

Now let’s imagine the government has decided that at a certain point, the billionaires have made enough money. Congress could easily write a law taxing at 50% the existing wealth of all billionaires. Do you think President Obama would sign such a bill into law? Hell yes, he would! And let’s also imagine that Congress is spending these incoming billions in exactly the same way that the billionaires would have done themselves.

Are the actions of Congress laudable? Absolutely not.

See, in the first case, the billionaires are voluntarily choosing to give up their own money. In the second case, Congress is stealing the billionaires’ money. It doesn’t matter that the money is going to the exact same charities; the act of Congress remains one of theft, not of voluntary giving. True, it’s theft via law and the armed force of government, but it’s still theft. While Congress’ action would be legal, there is nothing either praiseworthy or moral about forcefully taking one person’s money to give to another.

When you get down to it, it’s the billionaires’ money to do with as they see fit, not the government’s. Every time I hear a liberal talking about taxing the rich, I realize that liberal has forgotten that it’s just not his money.

And now for the fifth of my posts inspired by an editorial cartoon this week. Today’s was drawn by Chuck Asay.

Saddled with debt

Our government running up debt is a reality, and has been since before our country was founded. Article VI of the Constitution mentions that the new United States would still be responsible for all the debts incurred by the previous Confederation government. And pretty much every administration since then has run up the nation’s debt. But under President Obama deficit spending has ramped up to a whole new level. Here’s a telling graphic that is often posted at Gateway Pundit’s site:

Obama debt

Chillingly, the deficit run up by this administration in 2010 alone is close to $1.5 trillion. That’s in addition to what you see in the graph, which contains only figures up to 2009.

And what have we actually received for the $3 trillion deficit run up by President Obama’s administration? And how many generations ahead will be paying for this useless extravagance?

OK, to get me back into the swing of posting stuff here rather than driving my wife nuts with my verbal ranting, [Yes please! --TPK] I’m going to use some political cartoons as a jump-off spot. I’m calling these posts Cartoon Wisdom.

First up, something by Lisa Benson.

Laser-like Focus

President Obama talks about having “saved or created” millions of jobs because of the multi-billion dollar stimulus. Back when the stimulus was being debated, the government put out some numbers of the jobs they expected to create. Now many months later, Republicans have checked out the reality of jobs in each market compared to what the Democrat stimulus promised would appear. Here is the table they published showing the prediction verses reality.

Industry

Administration Prediction of Job Creation by the End of 2010

Actual Change in Jobs since Stimulus (February 2009 – June 2010)

Construction

678,000

-853,000

Manufacturing

408,000

-707,000

Financial Activities

214,000

-310,000

Retail Trade

604,000

-286,800

Professional and Business Services

345,000

-211,000

Information

50,000

-158,000

Transportation and Warehousing

98,000

-155,600

Wholesale Trade

158,000

-135,400

Other Services

99,000

-72,000

Leisure and Hospitality

499,000

-69,000

Mining

26,000

-16,900

Utilities

11,000

-7,500

Government

244,000

+201,000

Education, Health and Social Services

240,000

+434,000

Total

3,675,000

-2,347,200

Over two million jobs lost in this economy, and yet President Obama is all to happy to claim that millions of jobs have been created or saved. Yeah. Right.

In every sector of the economy, jobs have been lost. But one sector has seen lots of growth, and that has been President Obama’s laser-like focus: government jobs. Interestingly enough, the list breaks it down into Government and “Education, Health and Social Services.” But here’s the dirty little secret: both sectors are government jobs.

But this isn’t a surprise to me since I have written about it already:

If you are uncertain how the current administration will react to some situation, just identify the action most likely to increase the government’s size and power, and you will know exactly how the government will act.

Here is 51 second verbal home run scored against our current administration.

I’m sick and tired of hearing about Obama and the White House coming out with yet another crisis that has to be fixed by government sticking it to the people and taking more of what we earn and produce. Instead of allowing our small businesses, especially, to keep more of what we earn and produce, and then reinvest according to our own priorities. So that we can grow and thrive and hire more people. That’s how we create jobs. That’s how the economy will get roaring back to life.

But see, too many in the White House, including our own president, I don’t know when they have run a business. I don’t know when they have been a CEO of anything where they’ve had to look out for the bottom line, and they’ve had to make payroll and live within their own means with a budget. You know, they’re from government. They’re community organizers. They’ve been spending other people’s money for so long that I think a lot of the free enterprise principles that so many of us believe in, it’s all foreign to them.

For someone whom the liberal media tells us is dumber than a box of rocks, former Governor Palin understands better than this administration how the economy works and grows, and it isn’t from the government spending money while lurching from one crisis to another.

Banks are evil, says the government, and banks must be punished for making money. That’s the story I see from a news report from the website of the British Guardian newspaper:

Tough proposals to cut the world’s biggest banks down to size by taxing their profits and pay were outlined by the International Monetary Fund tonight in an attempt to spare taxpayers another massive public bailout of the financial sector.

In measures more stringent than Wall Street and the City had expected, the fund called for the introduction of a twin-track approach to the three-year banking crisis that would both force firms to pay for any future support packages and raise new taxes on their profits and remuneration.

The report, prepared by the Washington-based institution for the G20 group of developed and developing nations, was seized upon by Gordon Brown as evidence that his push for an international crackdown on the banking sector was gaining support.

Leaked in advance of the fund’s meeting this weekend, the blueprint emerged as the investment bank Goldman Sachs released better than expected first quarter revenues and admitted its bonus and pay pool had reached $5.5bn (£3.3bn) in the first three months of 2010.

How dare banks make a profit in these times? Don’t banks realize that they are the root of all evil? Snarl! Gnash! Foam!

Sorry. I was channeling Karl Marx or maybe an Obama bureaucrat. It’s so hard to tell the difference these days. The bottom line is a multi-government attack on banks and other financial institutions as evil will only continue, and the call for a government solution (read that as more taxes) will echo in our capitol as well as around the world.

Don’t forget that our current financial problem came from the collapse of the housing industry, and that came because of government meddling in the free market. Since government intruded and distorted the normal market forces, it’s no wonder that government is now calling for more meddling in the form of additional taxes. Nobody loves a crisis as much as the government does. Or as President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel put it, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” And what could be more tailor-made than a fiscal crisis created by the same liberals who now want to “fix” the problem through taxes?

The anticipated study called for a financial stability contribution (FSC), which should be paid by all financial institutions, not just banks, and used to bail out weak and failing firms. It would initially be paid at a flat rate but eventually be tailored to suit institutions’ size and riskiness.

While banks had been braced for the FSC plan, they were caught unawares by the proposal for a financial activities tax (FAT), which would be based on the profits and the pay structure of the firms.

That’s right, tax them to pay for the bailing out the government did to shore up the institutions that were undermined by that self-same government. After all, evil and greedy bankers shouldn’t be making a profit anyway. Don’t they realize that all profits are evil and wrong?

Unless that’s profit made by the government through taxes. That’s a good thing. Well, good for government, at least.

Too often I hear some elected official saying that the United States is a democracy. But we are not. The U.S. is a representative republic. The founding fathers were smart enough to realize that a democracy is inherently inefficient and unstable. Do you really want every American to vote on every item that comes up before government? That’s a democracy. And once the majority of the people realize that they can vote money away from the minority, then that democracy is doomed and will shortly implode.

We are a republic because we vote for people to represent us in government. The founding fathers didn’t want the people to vote directly on bills; that is why they created the Constitution the way they did. The President is not elected by the people; the people vote for electors to the Electoral College, and they vote for the President. And the citizens of each district vote for their representative in the House, and the state legislatures used to select people to be Senators. This way there were Representatives who were in touch with the common people, and Senators who were in touch with the needs of the states. With the arrival of the 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators became elected by the people of the states, and so they became populist puppets like the Representatives and had less to do with representing their states.

But our elected officials continue to talk as if we lived in a democracy. I don’t know if they do it because it is easier to say “democracy” than it is to say “representative republic,” or if they honestly don’t know the difference. President Obama and his aides are guilty of this, as reported by ForeignPolicy.com:

President Obama said Sunday that the United States is still “working on” democracy and a top aide said he has taken “historic steps” to improve democracy in the United States during his time in office.

The remarks came as Obama met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev — one of the U.S. president’s many meetings with world leaders ahead of this week’s nuclear summit.

The published press briefing at the White House identified the “top aide” identity: Mike McFaul, Senior Director for Russia and the Caucasus.

Q Hi, this is for Mike McFaul. When you were discussing the discussion between President Nazarbayev and President Obama about human rights and democracy, you seemed to be suggesting there was some equivalence between their issues of democracy and the United States’ issues, when you said that President Obama assured him that we, too, are working on our democracy. Is there equivalence between the problems that President Nazarbayev is confronting and the state of democracy in the United States?

MR. McFAUL: Absolutely not, Jonathan. To be clear, what the President was saying is that all democracies need to work to improve their democracies. And he’s taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States. There was no equivalence meant whatsoever.

Really? Historic steps? Fine, Mr. McFaul: name three historic steps taken by President Obama to improve our own democracy.

Can anyone name three? I sure can’t, so I contacted the White House asking for three examples. I’ll post whatever response I get back.