Taxes and Funding for NEA
Earlier this year, Americans were in an uproar about President Trump cutting funding for NEA (National Endowment for the Arts). “Take my $1.21! I like the Arts!” they said. On the surface, I think most people would agree with this sentiment. Most people, even those far less fortunate than you, dear reader, can find $1.21 in their couch cushions in order to support the Arts!
“Take my $1.21! I like the Arts!”
The 2016 budget for the NEA was $148m. There are about 122m tax payers in America. It’s simple math, right?
I’m not a supporter of President Trump. And I am a supporter of the arts. This is easy stuff, people. Let’s keep the NEA, right? Right?!
But it’s not quite that simple.
“Take my $4.59! I like Pumas running on Treadmills!”
In 2014, the NSF (National Science Foundation) funded a study of Pumas running on Treadmills. The cost: $560m. Using the above math, Americans should by saying “Take my $4.59! I like Pumas running on Treadmills!” But no one is saying that. So why aren’t we? Instead, we’re basically saying “Take my $65.57! I like Science!” Because the NSFs yearly budget is $8b.
And that right there is the FIRST problem with Taxes like this. In total, for these two programs alone, we’re saying “Take my $66.78! I like Science and Art!” But we’re also saying, without realizing it, “Take my $66.78 and give 2% of it to Art and 98% of it to Science. And of that Science piece, give 7% of it to something ridiculous and, well, I’m not sure what you’re going to do with the rest of it, but take it anyway! In fact, I have no idea what you’re going to do with any of it… but… just take it!”
“Take my $66.78 and give 2% of it to Art and 98% of it to Science. And of that Science piece, give 7% of it to something ridiculous and, well, I’m not sure what you’re going to do with the rest of it, but take it anyway! In fact, I have no idea what you’re going to do with any of it… but… just take it!”
We don’t get to pick and choose how much of our money goes to Art and how much goes to Science. And, even if we did, we don’t get to choose which Art and Science projects get funding and which ones don’t. In fact, we can’t even be sure that ANY money will go to Art OR Science next year. We agree to pay the tax, and government bureaucrats and lawmakers decide the rest. So by funding these things, YES, you’re paying for the National Arts Endowment. And also studies of Puma’s running on Treadmills.
The SECOND problem is that you’re not actually paying $1.21 for the arts. Nope. If you make about $100k/yr, then, yes, you were paying about $1.21/yr for NEA. If you make less than this, you’re paying considerably less. Well, how does that work? If you’re paying less, where is the money coming from? It’s coming from the people that make more than you.
The ONLY reason the Tax System “works” is because people with smaller incomes live in the same country as people with larger incomes. For most Americans, if everyone who made more money than you moved out of the country today, the situation would change drastically. This is because Taxes are paid as a percentage of Income.
And taxes HAVE to be based on a percentage, or they don’t do anything… they don’t work. If they were based on a dollar amount, each person would pay about $10k in taxes every year. EACH PERSON. Every kid. Every Adult. Every old person who no longer works. EVERY ONE. If we only consider current taxpayers, each person would have to pay about $30k in taxes every year. I know people who don’t make $30k/yr. These people would essentially be in debt to America year after year (or be without food, water, or shelter) since they don’t make enough to pay the “fee” for living in America.
And a HUGE chunk of this “fee” goes towards things that, on a line-by-line basis, the vast majority of Americans would never agree to paying for. Like researching Pumas on Treadmills.
So, with this in consideration, doesn’t it make more sense to eliminate all NON-ESSENTIAL expenses (and, as a result, decrease the Tax Burden for everyone) and handle those things through private, opt-in funding sources instead? So that you, personally, can decide where your money is spent, and how much of it? So that you can give $30/yr to the Arts, and $30/yr to Science, but, not the NSF, because funding research of Pumas running on Treadmills is silly?
Most Americans know very little about the officials they elect. And those officials hold office for, at a minimum, 2 years. And we don’t examine every choice they make throughout that term. How could we?! And we already complain that there isn’t a direct popular vote.
Reducing Taxes and cutting Government spending for all non-essential programs does exactly that: it lets you vote, with your wallet, for the things you want to vote for. It lets you decide when to stop funding something, instead of waiting for the term of an official you’re not even really watching to end. And it gives you more money in your pocket to do it.
If the NEA had been privately funded President Trump would have NO say in how that money is spent. He wouldn’t be able to cut funding for something the Government (or, really, Taxpayers) weren’t funding to begin with. And if the NSF had been privately funded too, you’d have an extra $66.78 in your pocket and could give it ALL to the NEA, if you so desired, increasing “your part” of their funding by 5519%!!!
The next time you vote, consider voting for a candidate that doesn’t support Taxes for NON-ESSENTIAL government programs and yet still supports giving Americans the social freedoms we desire. And then we can let all those hard earned dollars go towards things that really matter, instead of giving the government more of our money to do whatever they see fit with.