It's often said that a congressman is doing a good job if he's able to bring home more money to his district than has been paid by that district in taxes. My congressman, Jerry Costello, used that line of reasoning in our election in 2004. There's a serious flaw in that argument. While the economy as a whole continues to grow, the redistribution of wealth is a zero-sum game. If we're getting more tax dollars than we put in that means someone else is paying more than they're getting back.
There are only three possible outcomes in this game:
1. You get more than you give. In effect you take from you neighbor what isn't yours to use for your own purposes. This is called stealing everywhere in the world outside of the halls of congress.
2. You give more than you take. This means the government has determined that there are more important people than you in this country and that it's your job to pay for what they think is important. I would venture a guess that everyone thinks of themselves as important and our Constitution is supposed to guarantee that our government treats us equally; but apparently not if they want your money.
3. The scales are completely in balance, you get no more than you give. If this were the case the obvious question is "If I'm getting back the money I gave, why am I giving it in the first place? Can't I just keep it and use it myself?"
The sad truth is that we'll never be in balance because of the bureaucracy involved in collecting and redistributing all this money.
So we're all either thieves or dupes. We either believe we know best how our neighbors should spend their money or we can't be trusted to spend our own. There really is no middle ground in this game.
We have to stop forcing our judgment and beliefs on others. We have to stop forcing people to support and pay for things they don't want, don't need and wouldn't buy on their own.
The only way to win is to not play the game.