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A Voice from Fly-Over Country
April 11, 2013

"What's Yours Is Ours" – The Government
by Robert L. Hale
fitzgerald griffin foundation

MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA — Cyprus, following the longest enforced bank holiday in European history, has just confiscated (stolen, to put it bluntly) the majority of the funds of the country's bank depositors. What's left to the depositors has heavy restrictions on when and how much can be withdrawn.

Following the confiscation, President Nicosia Anastasiades tweeted to the citizens of the country, "I would like to thank the Cypriot people for their maturity and collectedness shown in their interactions with the Cypriot banks."

Spanish and Italian governmental bodies are considering similar raids on depositors' funds, as is Greece. This approach is being done in an effort to fund entitlements that far exceed tax revenues and the countries' ability to borrow.

 

...the burden on taxpaying Americans — including payroll taxes, income taxes, and deferred (deficit) taxes — comes to nearly 75 percent of what we earn.

   

"They have stolen our money," said an 80-year-old resident of Cyprus. Jeroen Dijssellbloem, Dutch chairman of the euro zone, announced that the "heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe."

"…across Europe." Guess that is good news for those of us who live in the United States. Guess we do not need to be concerned that our government will confiscate our bank accounts and savings.

Guess again. Our government, regardless of whether we look to Republicans or Democrats, is going down the same path as Europe. In fact, our national elected representatives are now stepping out and saying as much.

Those who choose to ignore what is going on, deny it, pretend it really is not happening or even possible, should reflect on the words of the 80-year old Cypriot.

France's socialist President, Francois Hollande, attempted to impose a 75 percent tax on millionaires' salaries. When the French courts struck it down, he instead assessed a 75 percent payroll tax on the companies paying such salaries.

On January 1, 2013, our government dramatically increased federal taxes, including a 55 percent inheritance tax. Our bank accounts were not directly appropriated. Deferred taxes of more than $1 trillion annually are being imposed through deficit spending. Added together, the burden on taxpaying Americans — including payroll taxes, income taxes, and deferred (deficit) taxes — comes to nearly 75 percent of what we earn. .    

Those who believe government must have our money should explain what, if any, limit there is on how much government is "entitled" to take and for what.

Whether what the government takes is called taxes or debt, the amount of our current and future earnings confiscated by the government amounts to outright theft. It does not matter whether it was taken by an out-of-control government or a bank robber — the outcome is the same. I wonder if Americans will continue to accept being robbed blind or finally stop the looters.

Those who believe government must have our money should explain what, if any, limit there is on how much government is "entitled" to take and for what.

The U.S. is $17 trillion in debt. This is more than our entire annual GDP. No nation or civilization in history has been able to sustain or survive such irresponsible government excess. However, our elected leaders and hired experts assure us this debt is no problem.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says we have no spending problem and no debt problem. What we have, he tells us, is a "misallocation of wealth." He correctly notes that America is the richest nation in the history of the world.

The majority of America's wealth is held privately. The net worth of Americans is between $188 and $200 trillion. Federal, state, and local governments' portions of these assets come to approximately $3.75 trillion, together with the value of one billion acres of land, including government buildings and infrastructure.

 

The U.S. is $17 trillion in debt. This is more than our entire annual GDP. No nation or civilization in history has been able to sustain or survive such irresponsible government excess.

   

Senator Harkin understands this. On February 14, 2013, he said, "All of this wealth that's been built up by hard-working Americans has been accumulated into fewer and fewer and fewer hands." He criticized the federal tax code, which he claims simply does not take sufficient wealth from those that have it.

Harkin believes the private wealth in our country, that is, the income and savings of individuals, is fair game for government to take. In fact, the only problem is that the government does not take enough.

He said that being the richest nation on earth begs the question, "If we're so rich, why are we so broke?" The "we" he refers to is not the American worker; it is the government. Harkin sees America not as a land of free people or a nation governed by the people. He believes America is the government; its citizens are simply workers whose efforts, savings, and property belong to the government to take as it sees fit.

Remember Jeroen Dijsselbloem's template for solving the euro zone's fiscal woes. Clearly, Senator Harkin and a growing number of our elected officials see it as the template to solve the U.S. government's excesses.

Beware. The current leadership in Congress — both Republican and Democrat — believes our wealth is theirs.

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A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright © 2013 by Robert L. Hale and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a non-profit public interest law firm. For more than three decades he has been involved in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.

See a complete biographical sketch.

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