Given the state of the federal budget, many are the cries for reductions and taxations. But where to slash? Push Granny off the cliff? Where to raise? Those lucre-loving denizens of Wall Street? On only one target can both sides comfortably settle: those blood-sucking federal employees, those lard-butts who sit around Washington all day doing crossword puzzles and pulling in twice what the average American wage-earner earns. Let’s face it, nobody likes paying taxes; why not dun the tax-takers?
So I thought I’d introduce you to your Friendly Neighborhood Fed so you could get an idea of where at least some of your tax dollars really go.
Well, yes, some of them do go to Washington to support Congressional Representatives and Senators, not to mention whoever currently inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (Yes, I know who currently inhabits it, but not even he can live there forever. At least, not as things stand at the moment, though I wouldn’t put it past him to have himself declared President for Life or something.) Some tax dollars do go for farm subsidies, transportation subsidies, medical research, defense, education, student loans, etc., etc., etc. In fact, so much goes out on all of this that I’m wondering why people fixate on federal civil-service employees as the Source of All Our Ills.
Oh, wait, I forgot, they don’t do nuttin’. Well…almost nuttin’. They do the medical research. They process Social-Security claims and income-tax returns, and those nightmarish FAFSA forms so well-known to college-loan applicants. Not a few of them put their lives on the line for you and me (and earn peanuts doing it, incidentally) – we call them soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. But there are also the people who guard the president, ensure that smugglers are caught, try their level best (with sometimes outright hostility from Congress and the administration) to keep our borders safe and minimize the effects of illegal drugs. And there are the people who, since 1971, have been making sure that you get home in one piece at night (OSHA, to be specific).
They don’t all work in Washington. Most of them, in fact, work ten or twenty miles from where you live. They pay taxes the same as you do, not only state and local and property taxes, but federal income taxes – which means they pay a portion of their own salaries. When they drive to work, they buy their gas at the same gas station you do; when they take mass transit, they pay the same fare you do. The health insurance they get isn’t the same razzle-dazzle cover-everything plan that the Congress gets; it’s the same Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan as yours, with, possibly, one exception: They pay a portion of their insurance coverage, something I never had to do when working in private industry. They make co-payments on their medical care, too.
When they go out to eat, they eat at local restaurants. Their kids go to school with your kids, unless they attend a parochial school – and maybe yours do, too. The houses on which they pay property taxes look like yours, to a greater or lesser extent; some have larger homes, but some have smaller homes, too. If they live in one state and work in another, they pay state income taxes to both states, same as you do. They shop at the same supermarkets you do, and get their hair cut by the same barber or hair stylist that you use.
Strikes me that an awful lot of your tax dollars are being plowed back into your community, via federal civil-service workers. Naive idealism? Not really – I’ve been married to one for over forty years.