Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Money, Tax, Woes: U.S. Fiscal Policy Unmasked

In a tax day speech, President George W. Bush noted, “Enough is enough. The American people deserve tax relief.”

Did you know that Americans pay on average 40 percent of their income to the government on the federal, state and local levels? Aside from income tax, Uncle Sam gets a cut of nearly everything we buy: gasoline, phone service, utilities and so forth. Then they tax us again when we get married or die. The tax system in the United States is out of control.

I wouldn’t have a problem forking over 40 percent of my income to the government if I knew that every dollar was being used properly and effectively. But I know that this isn’t the case, and that’s why I’m peeved. Our elected officials – especially the folks in this town – simply take our money and waste it. Our hard-earned dollars are either being poured into programs that don’t work or simply disappear into a bureaucratic black hole.

The Department of Education is the perfect example of both cases. For as much as Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) wanted to “build a bridge to the 21st century” for America’s school children, his massive spending packages have done little to actually help them. He spent a total of $125 billion in Title I funds for the nation’s poorest school districts. These schools are no better than they were eight years ago, and some are even worse. Don’t believe me? How about this for a fact – 60 percent of poor public school fourth graders can’t read at their own grade level. Clinton’s big bucks (our tax dollars) just weren’t working, but he kept pouring them in to public schools for eight years.

The more glaring problem in the Department of Education is what appears to be a lack of mathematics skills. $450 million went unaccounted for last year – officials had no clue where it went. Only recently have we found out that this appalling waste is the result of simple accounting errors and old-fashioned embezzlement. It’s not surprising that the Department of Education didn’t discover this misuse earlier – even a professional accounting firm couldn’t make sense of their records. And these are the folks responsible for ensuring our nation’s children are learning.

In another effort to waste tax dollars, Uncle Sam is also a charity organization for the world’s weak governments. We dish out money all over the globe but don’t have a great system for accountability or oversight. Money goes to Russia, but we don’t know if it’s being used for its intended purpose. I’m pretty sure that it’s not.

Then there’s all the aid to Haiti. The police chief on the island nation recently said that the cops couldn’t do their job because they don’t have tires for their patrol cars. Hundreds of millions of our tax dollars and you still haven’t bought tires? Is this an effective way to spend our tax money? I’d hate to see what’s going to happen with the $1.2 billion aid package promised to Colombia to fight the drug war.

More taxes are not the answer. We can’t keep on throwing money at society’s ills and expect them to go away. This is why I thank God every day that Al Gore was not elected president. (I realize that some of you are now fuming and saying under your breath “Al Gore WAS elected, but W. stole the election!” Whatever.) “Tax-and-spend” Al promised to be all things to all people, which would have meant more taxes for you and me. That means more government programs that don’t work and more waste and embezzlement.

The list of waste and misuse goes on. It’s becoming clearer every day that the federal government does not know how to properly spend our money, but they keep on taking more and more of it. The average American is overtaxed as it is, and every dollar of waste and misuse is another slap in the face of the taxpayer.

Frank A. Gagliardi, Jr. is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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