Thursday, April 14, 2005

Taxes and Responsible Government

Ah, tax day is approaching. I personally just sent out my 1040A and 540A along with my 1040ES and 540ES--along with several checks. Every year since I've started filing my taxes, I have a moment or two of reflection and think what my tax dollars are contributing to.

The first thing that comes to my mind is public schooling--I wouldn't be where I am today without it. The military, police and firefighters keep me safe to the point I take my safety for granted and rarely think about it during the course of the day--thanks people. The NIH (which paid me for several years) and NSF push the frontiers of science and technology in a way that private companies never will. Interstates, seaports, airports and air space allow the transfer of goods and keeps the economy going--an often overlooked subsidization to corporate America. The VA and veterans benefits provide our disabled heros with medical care and services--of which my 100% disabled father benefits from every day. Medicare helps my grandmother afford medical care, along with millions of other people.

The list goes on, but I wanted to highlight Social Security. Yes, I have a family member who benefits from survivor payments and am a bit biased. But that's not what I want to highlight here. I'd like to focus on how S.S. contributed to the reduction of elderly poverty. Englehardt and Gruber analyzed the data and came to the following conclusion:

Fourth, we document a major causal role of Social Security in driving these time series patterns. Increases in Social Security generosity over time are strongly negatively associated with changes in poverty.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:

So as Congress fixes to get rid of the tax on hand-me-down money, I'll still be happy to know that my money, more or less, will contribute a lot to the betterment of society. And to answer the conservatives who ask why I wouldn't want to take control of my own money instead of putting it into Social Security: Because it WORKS! I'm happy to do my part because we are all in this together.


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