A Surplus Of Rationalization

Remember when "envy" used to be a bad thing? This goes way back. but it may surprise you to learn that envy was once taken so seriously, it was listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Columns From: 11/1/2000 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Peter Zelinski

Remember when "envy" used to be a bad thing?

This goes way back...but it may surprise you to learn that envy was once taken so seriously, it was listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I know I was surprised!

The great progress envy has made was illustrated recently when the two major presidential candidates debated how they would handle the federal budget's so-called "surplus." One candidate said he would refund only one-quarter of it to the people who actually paid—or overpaid—the bills. The other said he would not refund the money at all, but would instead dole it out selectively to those citizens he personally wanted to reward.

A surplus represents an overcharge. Government billed us too much for the services provided. If a dentist or dry cleaner overcharged us, we would demand the excess be refunded. If you and I had split the bill, we would split the refund in the same proportion.

In the case of government, this means giving more of the overcharge back to those who overpaid more in taxes. In other words, the wealthy should get more of a refund.

But envy is now so ingrained, we simply can't accept this. The rich, we think, don't deserve their money. Therefore, not only should they bear excessively higher tax rates for services we all share . . . they also shouldn't even get their money back when they pay too much!

Let’s stop putting a pretty face on something ugly. If you don't pay your taxes, you go to jail. If you try to leave that jail, you get shot. Taxes are money taken at the point of a gun.

Many say citizens must be compelled to fund government or else society would die. There is some merit to that argument. However, it is an entirely different matter when government has been funded, and it keeps on taking money anyway!

Tell me, would it be so wrong of me to rob you at gunpoint?

Okay, okay. Then how about this: Instead of pointing the gun at you myself, I will elect someone who will order someone else to point the gun at you on my behalf.

Also, rather than taking the money in a simple way, my candidate will instead perform some services, overcharge you for those services, and then give some of the excess to me.

See how easy it is? So long as the act is complicated enough, victimizing those we envy is perfectly okay.

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