Sunday, September 19, 2010

Response to Paul Ryan and Arthur Brooks WSJ OpEd

Chicago Sunday PM 19 September 2010

Editors, The Wall Street Journal


The Wall Street Journal could not have found a better pair of authors for the Monday 13 September article “The Size of Government and the Choice This Fall” than [Congressman] Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Arthur C. Brooks [president of the American Enterprise Institute.]

They point out that “Americans like generous government programs and don't want to lose them” and “...favor keeping our social insurance programs intact.”

Could the reason for these conundrums be that, according to the 2010 Statistical Abstract, over 60% of all federal income comes from employer bank accounts because of withholding. Since all employers must do this, there is no competitive reason not to pass on this cost to customers in higher prices, silently converting income taxes and Social Security contributions to a silent national sales tax. Eliminate withholding, forcing the intended taxpayers to send in personal checks for 20% of their take home pay every month would have a decided impact on what the public is willing to lose and what federal intervention should be kept intact.

The authors quote Friedrich Hayek “... that the state has legitimate—and critical—functions, from rectifying market failures to securing some minimum standard of living.” Hayak believed that, but sure didn't find it in the United States Constitution. It isn't covered by the general welfare clause, as is gently but firmly explained by James Madison in his Federalist number 41.

If the public really wants to do it the Hayek way, they should do it the right way, getting appropriate Constitutional amendments passed by 2/3 majorities in each house of Congress and approval by ¾ of the state legislatures.

Arnold H Nelson

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