by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Iknow that there are some who look back on high school as the best days of their lives but I am certainly not one of them. I was one of those who counted down the days when I would finally be done with it, but I do have some fond memories. One of them involves a naïve teacher who didn’t believe that the government regularly lies to the American people. Though I will say that like my college years I was lucky enough to end up with teachers who understood that their job was to educate not indoctrinate, unlike certain people who have said that their teachers shoved ideology that bordered heavily on Communism down their throats. While I do feel lucky that I didn’t end up with ideologues disguised as teachers I still have a hard time comprehending how anybody not living in the 1950’s can be gullible enough to believe that the government doesn’t lie.
When I took this teacher’s course on American Government, Bill Clinton was on the verge of being impeached for lying under oath about having sexual relations with Monica Lewinski. My teacher said that since Bill Clinton lied under oath, he should be impeached. I then asked “Don’t all politicians lie?” She then looked at me with her sad puppy dog eyes and said that it was so unfortunate that people my age have that impression of our government. She attributed this to my generation living in a post-Watergate and post-Vietnam era. I want to point out that like most seventeen-year-olds at the time, I didn’t know Jack about the political process. At the time I had never heard the word “Libertarian” and for that matter I barely even knew the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives. What I did know is that the government consistently lies to the people on a daily basis. It is astonishing how anybody could be so naïve. I always wondered if she was the type who would write the words “Just give what you think I deserve” on a tax refund. Now I can only imagine what she would think of me now that I am a libertarian who thinks that the government at its best is incompetent. She wouldn’t even want to know what I think of the government at it’s worse. I will say that she was a decent teacher and she never tried to shove her political beliefs down anyone’s throat. Yet it still amazes me that anybody could be that naïve in that day and age.
While I have never had teachers that tried to impose their views on me or any of my classmates, I do remember this one propaganda video that we were shown in my Math of Money course, when they were teaching us how to fill out tax forms. They showed us this video about some high school kid working in some part-time job (can’t remember what it was exactly) who is upset that a huge portion of his paycheck has been taken out for taxes. The kid then goes to his mother, who comforts him by telling him that the money taken from his check will fund things such as roads and schools. When the kid asks what he can do about the absurdly high payroll taxes, she tells him to write his congressman. When the video’s protagonist goes back to work, one of his friends decides to take a job that pays in cash. Our good old law-abiding protagonists decides to stay with the job that allows his salary to be plundered by the government. As I have said earlier, I didn’t know much at that age, but I found myself disgusted by the way the video tried to make us think that it was virtuous of the government to take money out of the meager paycheck of a part-time worker. Now that I have become better educated, I am actually more disgusted by the flat-out lies told by the video. First of all, most funding for the roads comes from gas taxes and has very little to do with income tax. The same goes for government schools, which are mostly funded by state and local taxes. I do find it downright hilarious that the mother actually told her son to write his congressman if he thought his taxes were too high. Yeah, I am sure that the paycheck of some part-time worker who isn’t even old enough to vote, is going to be a major priority for a congressman. What I find the most outrageous about this video is the way that it tries to make us feel guilty for not wanting the government to steal money out of our paychecks.
I have always wondered how that poor kid would have acted if his mom had actually told him the truth about taxes.
Son: “Mom, where does income tax go?”
Mom: “Well, I could tell you that that they go to schools and roads, but they are mostly funded through gas and local taxes.”
Son: “Okay, so where do our income taxes go?”
Mom: “Well there is welfare, so that single-mothers can stay single and continue to have kids out of wedlock.”
Son: “What? Isn’t that kind of irresponsible?”
Mom: “Nonsense. Just take a look at what it’s done for those living in the inner-cities.”
The kid then scratches his head in confusion.
Mom: “Let us not forget those lazy pot-smokers who can now afford steak, while they sit around, playing the guitar and writing bad poetry all day long.”
Son: “How is that good?”
Mom: “Oh, sweetie. You need to show more compassion for the underachievers. Then there those corporations who are way too big to fail and need to be propped up by the American tax-payers.”
Son: “What? Why should we keep giving money to corporations run by people who aren’t competent enough to keep them afloat?”
Mom: “Oh, honey. Where’s your compassion? You can’t let these corporations fail. Even the fat-cats need safety-nets.”
Son: “Suddenly the idea of paying for the steak of a pot-smoking single mother is starting to sound like a better investment.”
Mom: “Don’t forget the foreign aid that goes to the countries that blame us for all their own ills.”
Son: “So why are we giving money to a bunch of ungrateful people who are never going to appreciate what we do for them?”
Mom: “The money doesn’t actually go to the poor people in those counties, silly. It goes to the dictators and warlords who rule over them.”
Son: “Great. Now the corporate bail-outs are starting to sound like a better investment.”
Mom: “Oh, I almost forgot about our precious warfare state?”
Son: “You mean our welfare state?
Mom: “No, I mean our warfare state. It’s where our government decides to go to war with countries that we never would have been able to point to on a map before our government decided that they were a threat to our national security.”
Son: “Oh, God, tell me this can’t get any worse.”
Mom: “Oh, sweetie, it gets better. Our government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on federal programs that probably don’t work. Then there are the credit cards given to government officials which they use to cover all government expenses such as i-Pads, liquor, jewelry, lingerie and gambling. Do you want to know how much the government spent on teaching Chinese prostitutes how to not drink on the job?”
Son: “Enough! I can’t take it anymore! Man, am I depressed.”
Mom: “Well the upside is that you will get most of the money refunded in April, though once you become a productive citizen, you will be penalized for it.”
Son: “That doesn’t seem fair. Why should we be forced to pay for the government’s inability to spend money wisely? I remember after the fifth time that Uncle Ernie asked dad for another loan for a get-rich-quick scheme, dad told him to go pound sand. Why should we be forced to fund a government that makes Uncle Ernie seem thrifty?”
Mom: “Because Uncle Ernie doesn’t have the power to send guys with guns to our house, if we refuse to give him the money.”
The kid now looks as if his head is about to explode, before storming off to his room.
Mom: “Where are you going, honey? I haven’t told you about Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, yet.”
The next thing you see is the Gadsden flag hanging in his room and a shelf full of Murray Rothbard books.
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