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Jewish World Review April 23, 2001 / 30 Nissan, 5761

James Lileks

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We bleat as
we're sheared -- USUALLY, April 15th is the apex of the tax-cutter’s grumbling. We bleat as we’re sheared, then trot off into the fragrant fields of spring and forget all about it until next year. But this year tax cuts are still in play. Bush made a push for his cuts, took a swipe at the balky bluebloods in the Senate, and distilled his plan down to pithy slogan form for the easily bored: “If you send it, they will spend it.” Twelve out of twelve O. J. jurors promptly voted for Bush’s plan.

Elsewhere, there’s the usual opposition. Sen. Barbara Boxer, whining through a smile on a CNN jabber-show, wons the week’s award for the most painfully inapt analogy: “What George Bush did is he picked his tax cut and then sort of built a budget around it," she said. "You wouldn't do that in your family. You would sort of sit down and see what your needs are."

Pure head-up-the-Beltway poppycock. Boxer seems to think that families sort of sit down and figure out what they’d like to buy, then overcharge all their customers and have the ones who don’t pay sent to jail. Or have their houses sort of confiscated. It works the other way, Senator. Dad says: “everyone sort of sitting down for this? Okay, our needs require an outlay of $42,500 this year. Unfortunately, we’re sort of only going to have $37,323, because Sen. Boxer sort of got to our money first.”

Boxer’s twaddle won’t impress the next generation of voters, if we believe a poll released by Junior Achievement. According to the poll, almost 84% of all teens in six cities - liberal burgs, too - agreed that taxes are too high. More girls than boys agreed, which contradicts the conservative hand-wringing over the takes-a-village “feminization” of American politics. Almost 94% of Black teens and 84% of Hispanics said taxes are too high - in both cases, a higher percentage than the white teens. Almost 63% of the teens believed that tax surpluses should be returned.

The poll was taken in liberal burgs, too - it’s not as if they hung outside the gates of Camp Cato or Ruby Ridge High. When teens in Seattle and San Francisco say taxes are too high, then they’re at levels that would make Lenin think about loosening the noose.

Heartening news. Many a father has ground his molars down to nubs when junior comes home from at college and lectures Daddy on his obligation to pay more taxes - why, in Sweden, they pay higher taxes, and everyone gets ten years vacation every decade. These slack-minded quasi-socialists are now parents themselves, and their kids turn out to be steel-spined Ayn Rand shocktroops. “Daddy! You’re using the power of the state to confiscate property? Didn’t you tell me that it’s wrong to steal, or gang up on the minority? Shame on - say, put down that bong and listen to me!”

Serves them right. But what caused this shift? Perhaps it’s a result of a boom economy - more kids made more money, and felt the consequences of success. Everyone has that cathartic moment when you get your first paycheck, and discover that there’s a ravening beast in the back room who gouges great chunks from the shanks of your salary. Or maybe there’s another reason - the pollsters queried the Napster generation, who believe that paying for anything is, like, y’know, annoying. Just as Napsterites use high CD prices to justify outright theft, the respondants to the poll used overtaxation to justify their dislike of paying what they owe as members of a civilized society.

Perhaps. But probably not. These were kids who grew up under Clinton. They saw what high taxes bought: nothing but more of the same. No mission to Mars. No grand national infrastructure upgrade. No soaring monuments, no fleets of proud ships, just a numberless army of nice dull people executing a million programs for the sake of spending their budgets. These kids are the future. These kids are our hope for some sort of sane tax policy, some day. We’re saved!

Of course, their kids will reject their elders, and turn into screaming Bolsheviks.

We’re doomed.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2000, James Lileks