Here are two pieces of information that might help you understand what I am about to write. A) I like Rick Santorum B) I appreciate large families
The combination of those two factors suggests that I should welcome Mr. Santorum’s campaign proposal to increase the per child tax credit. Yet, my heart sank when I heard about it. I certainly have first-hand knowledge of how expensive it is to raise children. Over the years, our orthodontist bills alone approached the budget of a small city. While our seven children were all home and the price of milk or eggs went up a few cents, my pocketbook felt it. You might say my opposition to the child tax credit proposal is a case of sour grapes since the benefit isn’t intended to be retroactive, but I don’t really think that is influencing my thoughts. I would be delighted for each of my children to have a large family (no pressure…well, maybe just a little), and empathize with how helpful some extra cash would be. As a grandmother, it might even free me up psychologically to leave Costco with clothing larger than toddler size. Still, while I am intrigued by Sen. Santorum’s candidacy, I think he is promoting a poor idea.
I have two basic concerns about this government giveaway plan. Firstly, I really, really, really want to see the tax system drastically simplified. I am tired of the thousands of codes and laws which favor some, reward “clever” accounting and legal footwork, and make most citizens cynical about the entire structure. My personal idea is that everyone, including those who receive government assistance, should pay something and that anytime the tax code cannot be readily understood and complied with by the majority of the country’s citizens, it needs to be overhauled. Granting that my idea may not be practical and certainly isn’t politically savvy, I do not want to hear about favoring some people over others. Period. Not government sector employees over those in the private sector; not those in some industries over others and not those who have children over those who don’t.
Even more than that, I don’t believe that government should be in the business of encouraging families to have more children. There is a huge problem, as both China and Europe have discovered, when a country’s aging population outnumbers its youthful one. But children are spiritual beings, not physical commodities which can be stockpiled. One of the ironies of the medals given by Stalin to mothers of large families (I would think long and hard before mimicking any policies of Stalinist Russia) was that some Jewish families, who were regularly harrassed because of their loyalty to their religion, were recipients of that medal. Of course, they had children not to help Mother Russia but in obedience to God’s command. Those children helped bring down the atheistic and communist Soviet Union. Getting into the procreation business – like other government favoritism forays – can open a can of unintended consequence worms.
Perhaps more importantly, while money may be tight in a family with children, getting a tax credit isn’t worth the price. I do not grant the government the royal mantle to reward or punish my decision to have or not have children. I want less government involvement in my family’s life, not more. Isn’t it funny that European countries who mandate parental leave unequaled in America, who provide much more government paid early education and day care, and who seem to make it so much easier to have children, have much lower birth-rates than America? Truthfully, the majority of parents who have large families, like Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and me, have them because we believe that God said to, not because any institution made it easy for us. I’d be happy for the government to take less of all hard-working people’s money and leave me the option whether to use it for raising children or in any other way.
There is a great deal I appreciate about Rick Santorum. His tax credit proposal doesn’t fit that category. I would actually like to hear a debate between just him and Mitt Romney, with questions posed by a moderator who is not actively working against a Republicans win in November. It would give Mr. Romney a chance to win support as more than the default candidate and Mr. Santorum a chance to show that he has bold and broad ideas to invigorate the economy. But then, I have no secret weapon for manipulating reality and so I will only hope that as the primary season continues, the process doesn’t continue to demoralize as it unfortunately has been doing – to me at least – until now.
7 thoughts on “No Tax Credits, Please”
One of the reasons Herman Cain resonated with people early on in the race was his willingness to tear down the current system of taxation and start over. Any “tweaks” to a system that is overbearing, confusing and frankly, frightening to the majority of people are band-aids on wounds where major surgery is needed. For this reason, I have to agree that Santorum’s proposal for a greater tax credit for children (not to mention the fact that I’m childless, intend to stay that way and am tired of paying for other people regardless of their merit) is not something that makes me quiver with excitement. As for Ron Paul, he reminds me too much of Woodrow Wilson with regard to his foreign policy stance. Wilson was elected in large measure by members of the “peace” movement, and his inaction during the Armenian holocaust was responsible for the slaughter of thousands of innocents and assurance to a young Adolf Hitler that his Final Solution would go unquestioned long enough to do its deadly work. We don’t need a repeat of that history.
As F.A. Hayek so cogently expressed in his 1944 classic The Road To Serfdom, all planned societies are doomed to failure. It is the Rule of Law that is the embodiment of freedom, and as John Locke wrote, “There can be no liberty without the law”. For these reasons, Ron Paul gained over 50% of the Republican vote from the 18 – 30 age group in the N.H. primary. Dr. Paul, purported fascist leanings aside, is an advocate of The Rule of Law, i.e. that predictable set of non-arbitrary rules by which the game of American politics is to be played – the U.S. Constitution including its Bill of Rights. Mr. Santorum and others would be wise to advocate a return to the the Rule of Law as established in U.S. Constitution rather than attempting to pick winners. As for Dr. Paul’s advocacy of an American isolationist foreign policy, I for one think that he and his followers are delusional. I would agree, however, that America needs a miltary that is at once leaner and meaner. This is why Dr. Paul receives so much support from active and retired military personnel, none of whom under the age of 85 have been allowed to particate in a major conflict where they were allowed to win. Wisely, younger Americans are loath to fight and die as necessary when one arm is required to be tied behind their back.
I am shocked that your readers are unaware of Ron Paul’s anti-Semitic and even Nazi connections. Please research his views and beliefs, as well as his supporters, which include the American Nazi Party.
I agree wholeheartedly, Susan, that government’s job is to enable and facilitate individuals’ decisions, about how their money is spent and their personal choices, paramount among them childbearing. Those with large families may have them because God told them to, or simply because they love children. In either case, it’s not government’s business. And you’re completely right about the tax code requiring simplification–as well as the idea that everyone, even low income workers and welfare recipients, should pay something. That is a revolutionary idea that reminds individuals they are not “entitled” to other people’s money.
One of your best posts ever, Susan. Deserves wide distribution!
Steve and Frank,
Thanks for your comments. I am glad that Ron Paul is in the race because I think he stands for principles that are terribly important to keep front and center when talking fiscal policy. His presence forces the other candidates to be more economically conservative and his consistency shames them.
I do think he is hugely off-base about foreign policy and has made comments which preclude his being the nominee. However, I am appalled at the vicious attacks on him which I think are emotional rather than rational and go way over the top. I also think that if establishment Republicans don’t understand his appeal they are writing off valuable potential votes in the general election. I see us hard put to win in November without Congressman Paul supporters and calling them idiots seems a funny way to court them.
Susan, I read your musings with great interest and enjoyment and benefit greatly from your teaching. I don’t know whether you have commented on Ron Paul in the past but I would be interested in your thoughts. I am a Christian and feel Paul’s actions and proposed policies are most in line with biblical teaching.
We do not care for Santorum as his walk has not even come close to keeping pace with his talk; this is true for ALL of the candidates but one, RON PAUL who has consistently & unwaveringly walked the talk and in light of the Bible shines bright; it puzzles me how so many “christians” are taken by all of the Republican liars.
Hello, my alliterative rabbi, from that guy/goy who once acknowledged that you are “witty, winning and wise”. As always I heed your judgement. As to Mr. Santorum, I like him solely for the stern lash he takes to public education, and to the Government’s outlandishly unconstitutional efforts to muscle into–excuse me, “occupy”–that area of law. Mr. Santorum stands alone in his clarity of thought on this subject. For that reason alone I will be sorry to see him go. Also, Rabbi, I have to disconnect from your site for now, as my caregiving can’t allow, but in due course I’ll certainly hope to catch up with your teachings.
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