Art Callaham: Mail Call comment was quite insightful

May 19, 2012|By ART CALLAHAM

“There’s got to be a column in this Mail Call submission!” That is what I exclaimed to my wife and anyone who would listen on Wednesday, May 2, after I read, what in my opinion, is the greatest Mail Call item ever. Here it is, reprinted in all its glory: “Apparently, I’m supposed to be more outraged by what Mitt Romney does with his money than by what Barack Obama does with mine.” — Lappans.

Please, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lappans, contact me. I’d love to give you space in one of my future columns if you have other pearls of wisdom you wish to impart. I just hope you’re not a right-wing tea partier or a left-wing spotted rodent protector. I hope you are in the middle; a centrist, neither 1 percent nor 99 percent. I hope you’re not on the government dole, that maybe you own a small business, vote often and recognize the value and cost of citizenship in this great country.

But even if you are someone I don’t want you to be, let me thank you, in all seriousness, for your insightful submission to Mail Call. Based upon your comment, you see what I hope a vast majority of Americans see: Obama wants to shift the focus of voters from his administration’s failures to a condemnation of another’s personal success.

One shining star in Lappans sees this attempted shift clearly.  There is no crime in being rich, or successful; no crime in hard work; no crime in trying to be better than your neighbor; no crime in opening the door of opportunity and stepping through it. This is truly the American way, yet the Obama administration and sadly even some of Mitt Romney’s own party wants to vilify living the American Dream.

What Romney has in terms of wealth and what he does with that wealth has little or no impact on the cost of government.  In fact, as far as federal individual and corporate income tax is concerned, simple math proves that even if America tripled that tax on the so-called 1 percent and eliminated all of the income tax loopholes, the tax revenue gained would not amount to a pimple’s worth of impact on the backside of the gargantuan giant we call the national debt. And that giant is growing larger every day.

I am not in the 1 percent; I’m somewhere in the 40 to 60 percent of middle America. Yet, I’m willing to pay more federal income tax with one simple caveat — everyone pays some; there are no free rides. Prorate, index, disaggregate, have three or four different brackets; but on tax day, everyone pays some amount of federal income tax. That is the cost of being an American.

But the true wisdom in the Lappans Mail Call comment is on the “spending” side of government. What does the federal government do with our money? I am outraged by a Congress where individual members, in their own words, admit to having never read the full content of the “Obamacare” law. I wonder if Obama has read it.

Like Lappans, I am outraged by an agreement to funnel billions of dollars into a corrupt Afghani regime to pay for that regime to protect itself. Yes, I agree that it is time to bring home the troops, but I would like to hear a detailed explanation on why we’re going to pay for a corrupt government to protect itself while not jeopardizing our own national security.

I could go on and on. Why bailouts, why stifle national energy independence, why have czars when you have a cabinet? Why, why, why? In the preceding three paragraphs, I have not made one single reference to Romney’s wealth, how he got it and how he spends it. Because, as Lappans has implied, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter (or at least should matter to each and every citizen of the United States) is how our government earns and spends our money — the money we pay in taxes. Just like your auto mechanic or your child’s school teacher or the person who cuts your grass, Obama and his administration work for me (and you) and provides to us who pay taxes a service. That service is called government.

Like Lappans intimates, our focus should be on how government service is provided and not shifted to how one individual accrued wealth or how that wealth was spent.

Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.

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