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Written by Joe Tetreault | 14 March 2010

I'm not a drain on society, but society has become a drain on me.

I just did my taxes yesterday.  We had a few new expenses in 2009 with a move and buying a new car thrown in the mix for good fun.  And despite both of us working and having the correct withholding from our paychecks, the final tally will have us cutting checks (that we can't afford) to both the IRS and the CT Department of Revenue Services.  We'll figure it out, though if you need to buy something from Amazon, starting here would be much appreciated.

But then I got a glimpse of the story that Don Surber ran today.

Americans might want to look at the tax code, which allows more than 50 million workers — in good times — to get away with paying nothing to the federal government — in fact, in many cases, the government pays a negative income tax to them.

More than one third of the people with incomes in 2008 paid no federal income taxes, the Tax Foundation reported.

The actual number was 51.6 million — or 36.3%.

The taxes from these 51.6 million were less than zero — thanks to our politicized tax code — and they paid a total of negative $50.5 billion.

See, we haven't bought a house, because we can't really afford one.  Though the interest deduction would be nice and likely would have erased the two looming deficits.  We haven't started a family, again because a family should be built on a solid foundation.  And another benefit of the tax code is denied us.

How is it that a young adult couple with a combined student loan debt of $42,000 and piles of regular living expenses, by virtue of having started off in one of the most expensive places to live in the US is called upon to subsidize those 51.6 million Americans who in addition to receiving back from the government all that was withheld from their weekly pay, received an average of $978.62.

The numbers become more distressing when one adds the forced contributions to a retirement ponzi scheme that won't exist when I'm 65 or a subsidized healthcare ponzi scheme that likewise will have been consigned to the dustbin of history by the time I qualify to get back my contribution.

Libertarians advocate the reduction of government, which means lower taxes, or at least fairer taxes.  It's foolish that the responsible decisions my family makes to forgo a better home and the beginning of a family because it is not advisable in the current economic climate should cause us to be penalized by a tax code that encourages other people to choose differently.

Government should not be a tool of social experimentation, regardless of how noble one feels the ideals of large families and home ownership are.  Someone must pay for these idyllic benefits.  This year, I'm among the payers.  And at least 50 million folks out there aren't.

More and more, the phrase "Going Galt" motivates me to change that.

UPDATE: This contributes to that feeling too.  I don't make $250 a day, let alone need it for a per diem.

UPDATE: Another reason I'm angling to end my tax paying days.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 24 February 2010

A link for Dr. Helen Smith's blog led to the above video. It's well worth your attention. The burden men bare in modern society is their virtual erasure from the noteworthy and the praiseworthy and their overwhelming inclusion among the ranks of the villains. If such disproportions were warranted one could not quibble.

Of particular note, the word games the British television anchors play. Fascinating to watch.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 10 February 2010

Zero-tolerance rules are deservingly mocked with zero tolerance.  Continuing that mission:

She told the boy's mother he had violated the state's zero tolerance policy on toy guns and could be suspended.

Click through for the who what and where, and the what happened.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 04 February 2010

So I got hacked off this afternoon. I'm cruising through my Google Reader and lo and behold a story emerges from the etherweb stop known as the Huffignton Post. Short form, Bryan Fischer argues for the criminalization of homosexual behavior in a blog post on the American Family Association's website. Fischer's perspective is actually rather clever in one regard, and should send shivers down the spines of the proponents of various public options and federal expenditures for health care.
It is obvious, then, from the information gained from the FDA and the CDC that homosexual behavior represents and enormous threat to public health. Quite simply, if intravenous drug use is against the law, homosexual behavior should be too. It’s a simple matter of common sense, sound public policy, and a concern for public health.

Now once we have agreed that we have a serious health problem on our hands here, the best public policy will contain the same kind of sanctions toward homosexual behavior that we have established toward intravenous drug abuse. Whatever we think we should do to curtail injection drug use are the same sorts of things we should pursue to curtail homosexual conduct. And that's the place for the discussion to begin.

This is the natural consequence of asking taxpayers to pay for healthcare. The taxpayers will recognize that individual behaviors and choices will cost them more than the people choosing to engage in such behaviors. In the case of STIs the cost of treatment will be borne not merely by an individual but by society in general. In that sense, I'm curious why fewer people arguing for limited government have refrained from such arguments. Federalizing health insurance provides the government with too many opportunities to approach our lives, our choices and restrict them in the name of "fiscal responsibility."

If Fischer was merely illustrating the absurdity of federal power grabs by demonstrating the logical end point of statist impulses, then well played. But he's not. He's coyly suggesting that homosexual behavior should be outlawed, and he's cloaking his desire in the veil of public health concerns.

This sickens me.

The AFA is a non-profit organization that "stands for traditional family values and exists to motivate and equip citizens to reform our culture to reflect Biblical truth on which it was founded." That this organization regards individual choice as a cause for imprisonment when God directs people to judge not, lest they be judged is difficult for me to fathom. Even accepting that we all make judgments, the premise that animates the passage in Luke (chapter six verses 37-38) is that we are at fault when we are severely critical of others by seeking to find fault in them. One may regard their choices as poor, but the calling of the Christian is not to judge the person on their actions. Instead, Christians are charged to elevate them in a spirit of love and acceptance. We have been forgiven, to judge another is to regard our forgiveness as a trivial matter.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

If Mr. Fischer is certain that the choices homosexuals (men in particular) make are detrimental to them, he would be better served encouraging them in the spirit of Christ-like humility to be safe and to know that God loves them. He would also do well to recall that Jesus forgave liberally and reserved his harshest judgment for those with a holier than thou attitude. People called Pharisees who were convinced, much like Mr. Fischer, that they had the answers and knew the mind of God.  Gandhi once quipped that he liked Christ, it was the Christians he didn't care for. Mr.  Fisher is going out of his way to make Gandhi's point.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 04 December 2009

New York joined the swelling ranks of states to either reject measure allowing same sex marriage or to outright ban the practice.  At present only Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa acknowledge that all citizens possess the fundamental right to enter into the bonds of matrimony with whomever they see fit to wed.  The vote, in the Democrat controlled state Senate, was lopsidedly against and displayed the challenge that same sex marriage supporters face in spades.  Even in a state that tilts liberal, getting the votes, either by referendum or in a legislative body has been extraordinarily difficult.  Next up will be New Jersey whose legislature is rushing to get a bill to lame duck Governor John Corzine before he leaves office in January.

Same sex marriage is a difficult issue, because the partisans tend to be particularly rabid.  Social conservatives argue that the sanctity of marriage as God intended it demands that homosexuals be denied the right to marry as they see fit.  Their opposition rather than engage them shrieks bigotry.  In other words, as is typical of most public debate, they talk at each other rather than to each other.  They disrespect opposing views rather than engage them.

Sadly, this prevents either side from fundamentally seeing the issue is one of liberty, which means it fits the most sacred aspects of American society.  Our founding document trumpets liberty as one of those inalienable rights that our founders were willing to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in defending and protecting.

Their vehement support of liberty calls to mind Barry Goldwater's famous remark when accepting the 1964 Republican Presidential nomination, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

Goldwater's commentary, ridiculed as nuts, reflects the love of individual freedom that animates most Americans to this day.  We seek to do what we want, when we want, so long as our behavior does not inhibit another's enjoyment of his or her right to do the same.

The opposition to same sex marriage is grounded on the idea that homosexual marriage is wrong or will diminish heterosexual marriage.  The latter is unprovable, the former is none of your business.  What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes and bedrooms should be, even when the consenting adults proclaim their bedroom behavior for all to know.

The issue of same sex marriage fits the paradigm of interracial marriage.  The same arguments were used forty some odd years ago to prevent two people in love from declaring their love to their community by entering into the bonds of matrimony.  In repeating that argument, American citizens illustrate the slow grinding advance of progress.

Same sex marriage polls well among younger Americans.  In no small part because people from my generation and younger have seen the struggles of friends who have wrestled with affirming what they know themselves to be.  We hurt with them, even when they suffer in silence.  And we cannot imagine a nation rejecting their wish to merely live their life as they see fit, without the interference of scolds who demand that they conform, or accept a lesser designation than the one so casually granted to others.

My perspective is that the state need not concern itself in the matter of private contracts executed between consenting adults. Everyone should be afforded the civil protection to live as they see fit. Tax breaks and the such are unnecessary to encourage marriage. If marriage is a positive good, people need not receive benefits to induce their participation.  The benefit of the behavior is self-evident.

Like the bailouts, the benefits extended to married heterosexual couples, allow the government to pick winners and losers.  In this case with affairs of the heart.  Our Constitution exists to defend the rights of minority groups, no matter how small, to live free, unencumbered by onerous regulations.  Time will see this issue settled justly.  But every day politicians hide behind the anachronistic prejudices of the past, they deny the intention of the founders, and the right of their fellow citizens.

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