Election years tend to make water-cooler talk more interesting. We become experts on national finance, welfare and program, and then fight to the death armed only with the info we garnered from the news during the morning drive. It is good that folks take a position. It is even better when we become knowledgeable and then take a position. Understanding and even empathizing with both sides of an issue makes our conversations more informed and less belligerent.
But when government is taking away something to which we believe ourselves to be entitled, can we ever really understand the other point of view? Some, when asked to pay more taxes to support another government program, remunerate without protest. Some, when asked to surrender, adjust or do without government benefit, seek alternate solutions sans a picket line. But most fail to notice unless they are directly affected. Few resist taxes that are not taxed; and few fight to preserve benefits that are not benefited.
Aren’t we sad when a member of anyone’s family dies but saddest when it is a member of our own? Long ago, famed English moral philosopher Adam Smith pointed to the evident, if unpleasant, truth that we care more about smashing our own fingers than the deaths of a million in a far away and unrelated place. So it seems that the political trick of taxation is to only tax those who don’t vote for you or understand the increase. No one likes taxes. So, let’s call them something else or apply them to “those” people not “our” own supporters. And, if government cuts must occur, the politicos know that programs must be changed only quietly or, better yet, deferred to future election cycles. How can we hope to understand, knowing that we are being manipulated? Benevolent or not, can this be right?