(Cartoon by Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle.)
The headline stories in today’s papers about the GSA’s parties and the Secret Service’s prostitutes are unfortunate, particularly as they coincide with the federal tax-filing deadline. One’s enthusiasm or just plain willingness to pay one’s legal tax liability is directly related to one’s trust of the government–the assurance that we “get our money’s worth” in the taxes we pay into the public sector.
These examples are egregious displays of the classic “waste, fraud, and abuse” that Americans fear permeates the government, yet both are very “small” compared with most of what the government does and most of what it commands and spends in our society’s resources. In theory, these incidents should not affect our society’s ability to raise an amount of revenue adequate to pay for the size and shape of the government we all desire. In practice, however, they no doubt will–because Americans, greatly encouraged by the politicians who serve them, love dwelling on the small, scandalous, and fleeting stuff, especially when it distracts away from the large, difficult, and persistent stuff.
(I’ll have more to say about the rich guy paying the taxes in the above cartoon, later today.)