So Pres. Obama has been getting some flak for recently saying, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” So let’s look at how somebody else – say, somebody in government – made it happen. First up is a report from Georgia.

Police in Georgia have shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to save up for a trip to a water park, saying they didn’t have a business license or the required permits.

Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar says police also didn’t know how the lemonade was made, who made it or what was in it….

The girls needed a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day or $180 per year.

This is not an isolated event. Reason.TV awarded lemonade stand crackdowns the Nanny of the Month for June 2011.

And did you hear about 13-year-old Nathan Duszynski’s entrepreneurial efforts?

This summer, 13-year-old Nathan Duszynski wanted to make some money to help out his disabled parents—his mom has epilepsy and his dad has multiple sclerosis. So he decided to open a hot dog stand. He saved $1,200, mostly money made by mowing lawns and shoveling snow. He checked with the city to make sure he didn’t need any licenses or permits, even going to city hall in person with his mom. And then he bought a cart….

He arrived to set up shop on his first day and 10 minutes later, a zoning official arrived to shut him down. The problem: The cart, which is in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, is on the edge of official downtown commercial district of Holland, Michigan. The city bans food carts in that area in order to minimize competition for the eight tax-paying restaurants a couple of blocks away.

The Mackinac Center produced the following 4 minute video about this story.

Which brings me to the garbage strike. My garbage didn’t get picked up this week, thanks to a strike in my area:

Garbage, recycling and yard-waste pickup for most of Waste Management’s 220,000 customers in King and South Snohomish counties stopped Wednesday when Teamsters went on strike against the region’s largest refuse service over wage and benefits issues.

Teamsters Local 117, which represents 153 recycling-route drivers, walked off the job at 10 a.m. and was joined by Local 174, the garbage-truck drivers, who signed a contract with Waste Management a few months ago.

So 153 pissed-off drivers have affected hundreds of thousands of people, and our trash now sits, uncollected, in the hot Northwest sun. Thankfully, the Northwest sun isn’t all that hot, even in July. We’re barely hitting the low 70s, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but given an extra week, local trash is going to start smelling really special.

A lot of people are complaining about the strike, but think about it: this could be a prime opportunity for an entrepreneur. Once I realized that trash wasn’t going to be picked up, I could have printed up some flyers and hit all the houses in the neighborhood. The local dump charges $20 for a car to drop off garbage, so that would be the price I’d set per can for my trash-removal service. If my neighbors don’t want to wait for the striking collectors to pick up the trash next week (or possibly the week after that, depending on how long this strike drags on), I’d be there to do it for them at the same price it would cost them to do it themselves. But they’d get to skip the bother of carting it to the dump, and I would add the additional service of power spraying out their garbage cans to sweeten the deal. That’s a service Waste Management doesn’t offer.

I’m guessing a friend and I could do a good Saturday’s worth of work helping out the neighborhood, and I could pay a local kid to do the power spraying. But I’m not going to do this. First, I don’t have a truck, nor do I know someone who has one. But even if I did have a truck, I’d not do this because I know local government would try to stop me at every turn. I’d probably make multiple trips to the local dump, and that many visits would most certainly attract the attention of the “helpful” people at city hall. They’d want to see my business license, and who knows what else. I’ve dealt with the joys of obtaining a local business license before, and I have no desire to repeat the process. I might discover that there’s a local ordinance against individuals collecting other people’s garbage and taking it to the dump. Government will make sure that this attempt to make a little money becomes a huge headache, a bother, and more trouble than it’s worth. Consequently, this potential service will die before it even gets off the ground.

And that’s the point. Our local, state, and federal governments have gone from encouraging small businesses to actively discouraging them with punitive regulations and fees. It’s not because the government doesn’t want people to make money. After all, people who make money pay taxes. The government specifically discourages entrepreneurship and subtly encourages working for big business, partially because of the way governments collect taxes. When you start working for someone else, you sign a W-4 form stating that your boss will withhold taxes from every one of your paychecks and duly send it off to Uncle Sam. You cannot opt out of this automatic taxation, even if you would be scrupulous in paying all your taxes every April 15. The government wants a steady influx of tax money. But if you opt to start a small business, you get the thrill of paying your own income tax four times a year, plus the increased likelihood of an IRS proctology exam. Bureaucrats aren’t stupid. They’d rather receive sure, steady tax revenues, collected automatically and painlessly from docile workers who aren’t even sure how much they’re being milked, than wrestle with uppity entrepreneurs who know exactly how much they’re being taxed, who hate punitive taxation and who will fight to keep more of the money they make.

President Obama has no personal experience starting a small business or reaping the rewards of his efforts. In fact, throughout his life he’s been surrounded and supported by people who helped “make it happen” for him, so perhaps his outlook is understandable. But those of us who have always had to work for a living, who pay taxes to support the very infrastructure that gives us a measure of success, may be excused for questioning the President’s judgment. And those of us who have struggled to start a small business and grow it to any measure of success recognize President Obama’s speech for what it really is: a load of garbage.

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.

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.

Here is the fourth of my posts inspired by an editorial cartoon this week. Today’s was drawn by Lisa Benson.

Bush's tax cuts expiring

The tax cuts that President Bush pushed for are slated to expire January 1st, 2011. And for many Americans, it means a tax hike. You can calculate and see if that’s the case using this handy form from the Tax Foundation. I did a quick test and found out that I’ll be coughing up almost $2,500 more if the tax cuts go away. I don’t know about you, but $2,500 is a bunch of money!

But there is something else worth considering. Bush’s tax cuts have and will affect the overall economy. The tax cut law was signed by President Bush on May 28, 2003, and the effect was quickly seen. The GDP growth for the second quarter of 2003 was 1.10%, but in the third quarter, with the tax cuts in effect, the GDP growth was 2.25%. GDP growth more than doubled, thanks to cutting the top rates people had to pay. Also interesting is the growth of private investment before and after the tax cuts. The private investment rate two quarters before the tax cuts kicked in were 0.61% and 0.42% while the two quarters afterwards were 3.96% and 4.50%. When people realized they could keep more of their hard-earned money, they were willing to invest it in the economy. Since the tax cuts had been heavily debated for a while before their passage, it’s very possible that many businesses and investors held off purchases and big spending until after the tax cuts kicked in.

Let’s take a look at where we are now. We are almost a mirror opposite of 2003. Instead of anticipating tax cuts and postponing activities, businesses are anticipating tax increases and hurrying to do what they can to earn before the taxes go up. As I see it, the rush by businesses and investors to get while the getting is good is boosting this weak economy. Once President Bush’s tax cuts expire, there won’t be nearly as much effort to work for less. I see a deeper recession if the tax cuts expire, and I’m not the only one seeing it.

“In a worst-case scenario, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire and failing to fix the AMT could result in (1.5 percent) of fiscal drag in 2011 on top of the 1 percent fiscal drag we expect to occur as the Obama fiscal stimulus package unwinds,” Deutsche said in a note to clients. “If the recovery remains soft/tentative through early next year, this additional drag could be enough to push the economy to a stalling point.”

The opinion runs counter to that of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said earlier this week that allowing the cuts to expire would not cause the economy to re-enter recession. The administration has proposed letting most of the tax cuts stand, but eliminating the ones for the top-tier earners.

Deutsche compared the situation to Japan in the 1990s, when the government let tax cuts expire and cut stimulus, leading to another leg down in the recession and ensuring the nation’s “lost decade” of no economic growth.

Our Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says that letting the tax cuts expire wouldn’t cause the economy to re-enter a recession. And government said that the multi-billion dollar stimulus would hold unemployment at 8%, but we are sitting at 9.5%. The administration doesn’t have a good record when it comes to foreseeing the results of their actions. Heck, our Treasury Secretary has a hard enough time just paying his own taxes.

How could we get out of our current recession? I have a plan that would do so in just three easy steps. But Congress would never do it because it means reducing their power. And they can’t have that.

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.

The AP news story starts off with the title of “Initial jobless claims increase unexpectedly.” My initial reaction was disbelief. How could the current unemployment be anything but expected?

The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that jobs remain scarce even as the economy recovers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims increased by 18,000 in the week ending April 3, to a seasonally adjusted 460,000. That’s worse than economists’ estimates of a drop to 435,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

“…a sign that jobs remain scarce even as the economy recovers.” What? How can the economy be said to be recovering when jobs continue to hemorrhage away? I also have to laugh at the way the economists are constantly surprised by the unemployment numbers. It’s not all that surprising to me.

Quite simply, the principal purpose of a business is to make money. A business that doesn’t make money soon stops being a business, and all its employees are then out of a job. The more uncertain the future, the more uncertain businesses become about hiring and expanding. And hiring people and expanding business is exactly what will get us out of our current recession. Why would a business hire people and purchase equipment if the likelihood of making a profit is dubious at best? And what is producing that uncertainty? Government, of course.

The massive health care overhaul has passed. What does that mean for additional taxes and fees to businesses? At this point, it’s too soon to tell. After all, the Senate version was passed, but the House is still fighting for its changes to be reconciled into the law. That is producing uncertainty.

People in the White House are talking about tax increases. What will those tax increases be? Will they be focused more on people or on businesses? And if businesses are targeted, will the increased taxes apply to all businesses or just businesses over a certain number of employees? If additional tax burdens apply to a business once it has 51 or more employees, what would a struggling business with 51 or 52 employees likely to do? If you say “fire enough people to drop below the new tax level,” you’re right, and obviously not a government economist. So the prospect of increasing taxes is producing uncertainty.

In the same Reuters report talking about increasing taxes, Paul Volker also floated the idea of a European-style value-added tax. If you think our current tax system is complex, the VAT adds yet another layer of complexity on top of it. And his comment doesn’t show any assurance that our current income tax would be replaced by a VAT, so I’m left to believe that we would have a VAT on top of our current income tax. Adding a VAT to business would produce uncertainty.

Even though much of the science behind human-caused global warming has been shown now to be fraudulent, eco-freaks and people in government are still pushing for a carbon tax. Since everything humans do, including simply breathing, produces CO2, a carbon tax would affect every business, and not in a nice way. Discussion of a carbon tax like Cap and Trade produces uncertainty.

The tax breaks signed into law by President Bush are scheduled to expire in 2010. Will Congress renew the tax breaks, or will it let them expire? The expiring tax breaks would mean a hike in the taxes paid by businesses, and increasing taxes on businesses just puts an additional burden on them in an already tough economy. Not knowing whether the current tax breaks will remain or vanish away produces uncertainty.

Every time government steps into a business and tells it what it may or may not do, it is creating uncertainty. Will this meddling change with the next administration? Will it change with the next big scandal or witch-hunt? Toyota is being pummeled by the government for a run-away acceleration problem which is most certainly mostly hype and partially driver error. But government, who controls Toyota’s competitors, is creating a hostile work environment and fining Toyota over this latest bugaboo. Not knowing if government will allow a business to actually do its job produces uncertainty.

Government isn’t able to create wealth; it can only take it from one person to give to another. And while it is transferring the wealth, some of it sticks in the bureaucracy, so this wealth transference isn’t efficient. Likewise, government cannot create jobs that will stimulate the economy. The most it may do is create government jobs that require taking more of the nation’s wealth to feed the bureaucrats. And that way does not lie prosperity, just more government bureaucracy.

To promote the common welfare, stimulate the economy, and foster the creation of real jobs, government needs to make it easier for businesses to do their business. Our government could easily do that by lowering taxes and reducing uncertainty. But as long as this administration, or any other one, continues to make the future scary and uncertain for businesses, we will be slow to exit this recession, and businesses will be reluctant to hire new people or even keep all of their employees on.

Next time you read that joblessness or recession numbers are unexpected, you may rest assured that you are dealing with someone who doesn’t understand business, even if they have a Ph.D. in economics. Why else would they be so surprised?

After getting home last night, I did a little link chasing until I stumbled across an article of leftist coveting posted by Les Leopold on the Huffington Post website titled “The Forbes 400 Shows Why Our Nation Is Falling Apart.”

It’s great to know that during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans, according to Forbes, actually increased by $30 billion. Well golly, that’s only a 2 percent increase, much less than the double digit returns the wealthy had grown accustomed to. But a 2 percent increase is a whole lot more than losing 40 percent of your 401k. And $30 billion is enough to provide 500,000 school teacher jobs at $60k per year.

Collectively, those 400 have $1.57 trillion in wealth. It’s hard to get your mind around a number like that. The way I do it is to imagine that we were still living during the great radical Eisenhower era of the 1950s when marginal income tax rates hit 91 percent. Taxes were high back in the 1950s because people understood that constraining wild extremes of wealth would make our country stronger and prevent another depression. (Well, what did those old fogies know?)

Why use President Eisenhower as the benchmark? Leopold could have chosen the highest tax rate of 94% which fell 1944-1945, but that would be mentioning Democrat Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Instead, he chose a Republican. Gee, I wonder why he chose a Republican instead of the higher rate under two previous Democrats.

So, were taxes that high in 1944-1945 and again from 1951-1963 because “people understood that constraining wild extremes of wealth would make our country stronger and prevent another depression”? Really? So the high taxes from 1932-1986 made the country stronger, so we didn’t get affected by the recessions of 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960-61, 1969-70, 1973-75, 1980, and 1981-82? Golly, good thing the government was confiscating 50-94% of the wealthiest Americans’ incomes during that time, or we’d have really been up poop creek without an implement of movement!

Quite simply, a tax is a punishment, so a tax on income is a punishment for earning money. When the government punishes an action, like earning money, the people respond by doing less of it. So Leopold thinks a massive income tax makes the country stronger by encouraging people to work less, and that’s a good thing? And here I thought the whole depression/recession thing is what you get when there is a reduction in the productivity of the nation. Well, what does this old fogy know?

Had we kept those high progressive taxes in place, instead of removing them, especially during the Reagan era, the Forbes 400 might each be worth “only” $100 million instead of $3.9 billion each. So let’s imagine that the rest of their wealth, about $1.53 trillion, were available for the public good.

What does $1.53 trillion buy?

It’s more than enough to insure the uninsured for the next twenty years or more.

It’s more than enough to create a Manhattan Project to solve global warming by developing renewable energy and a green, sustainable manufacturing sector.

And here’s my favorite: It’s more than enough to endow every public college and university in the country so that all of our children could gain access to higher education for free, forever!

Ah, the classic liberal dream of “I could spend your money better than you can.” Maybe, just maybe, Leopold could spend the money with far more wisdom than the 400 Forbes billionaires, but he misses one key point: their money is not his to spend. But Leopold has become successful in breaking the Tenth Commandment:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. Exodus 20:17 [emphasis mine - CM]

Other people’s money most certainly falls under that part of not coveting anything that is our neighbor’s. Now it’s true we can play the game of imaging just how much better we could spend another person’s money, but at best it’s just so much mental masturbation since it gives us a nice feeling, but nothing productive actually happens. But playing this game has a bad side leading to feelings of jealousy, rage, and calls for the confiscation and outright theft of other people’s money “for the common good.” Walter E. Williams sums it up well in his book More Liberty Means Less Government on page 182 of my copy.

Liberals are about control. Jealousy is their powerful instrument for the politics of envy. By getting us to covet that which belongs to our neighbor, we in turn give them the power to confiscate what are perceived as ill-gotten gains of others and pass it around. In the process we all wind up being less free, less prosperous, and less moral and become a nation of thieves engaged in the attempt to live at each other’s expense.

Leopold waxes on about the warm and pleasant feeling his mental wankfest grants him as he contemplates the theft of other people’s money. He says that “please let’s not call it socialism,” and he’s right. There is a much better term for the progressive tax he lusts after, and that word is Marxism. After all, a progressive tax is the third of Marx’s Ten Planks proposed in his Communist Manifesto.

Almost a year ago, September 12th, 2008, to be precise, then-candidate Barack Obama made a promise to the American people.

And I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase – not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

This promise didn’t last long. On February 4th, 2009, President Obama signed into law a 156% tax increase on cigarettes, and that certainly qualifies as part of “any of your taxes.” But it’s so hard to keep one’s word; we should give him credit for going 16 days before breaking it.

“But surely that was a one-time slip! Besides, smoking is a nasty habit, so it’s OK to raise taxes on them.” Taxes on cigarettes is often called a “sin tax” because that tax is on something people really shouldn’t be doing anyway. But once you accept the idea of taxing people’s cigarette sins, then all other sins become fair game for more taxes:

The President, in an interview with Men’s Health magazine released yesterday, said he thought taxing soda and other sugary drinks is worth putting on the table as Congress debates health care reform.

“It’s an idea that we should be exploring,” the President said. “There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that’s been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else.”

So that’s a tax on just the rich people’s soda, right? *snort* Yeah, sure it is. But why is Obama even considering taxing sodas when he made a firm pledge to raise “not any of [our] taxes”?

Simple. I have come to realize that a politician’s “firm pledge” is what we normal folk would call “a lie.”