Italians, Ashcroft And Aarp

15 April 2004

A Day of Anger and Questions
by Craig J. Cantoni
April 15, 2004

April 15 is not only tax day. It’s also a day of anger and questions.

After paying a tax accountant $1,125 to prepare two tax returns for my wife and me, two returns for our 13-year-old son, and five returns for my 82-year-old mother and deceased father, I am overflowing with anger and questions.

I’ll discuss the tax returns after I ask a question that I ask every April 15th: Is it moral for me to use force to stop an armed robber from stealing my family’s money?

If the answer to the above question is yes, then a follow-up question is in order: Is it moral for me to use force to stop someone who retains an armed robber to steal my family’s money?

If the answer to that question is yes, then there is one more follow-up question: Is it moral for me to use force to stop fellow citizens from voting to have the government and its armed agents steal my family’s money for their own benefit?

Sorry for the provocative questions, but…

...it’s an Italian thing. I was raised to believe that family comes before anything else and that a man has a moral obligation to protect his family. I understand that other people from other backgrounds were raised to believe that the state comes before family. Some even believe that it’s good for a woman to ”marry” the state instead of the father of her children and for the state to support her with money taken from her neighbors. It takes a village, you know.

Note to Attorney General John Ashcroft: Although I believe that I have a moral obligation to protect my wife, son and mother, and although I’d like to break the kneecaps of thieves who steal from them with the government’s help, I don’t plan on grabbing my tire iron—not because I think it would be wrong, but because I’d go to jail.

Speaking of jail, I have a question for you, Mr. Ashcroft: Since the primary purpose of government is to protect the lives and property of citizens, and since the primary purpose of your office is to prosecute those who take the lives and property of citizens, then why don’t your agents prosecute people who have government agents steal money from their fellow citizens?

After all, it’s not as if the culprits are hard to find. You could start with the directors of AARP, who use the mail to openly advocate that wealthy seniors steal from subsequent generations, including from my son. If it was justified to arrest and handcuff Enron executives, then it is certainly justified to arrest and handcuff AARP directors, whose theft is thousands of times greater. And while you’re at it, you could arrest all of the members of Congress who perpetuate the fraud and dishonest bookkeeping of Medicare and Social Security.

Closer to home, you could arrest the school board of my local school district. The district will take about $190,000 in school taxes from my wife and me over our adult lives, although we exercise our religious freedom and send our kid to parochial school. The district gives some of that money to our neighbor, a wealthy doctor who has three kids in public school and could well-afford to pay the full $252,000 that it will cost the district to educate his kids for 12 years.

Because the doctor and 90 percent of Americans have been indoctrinated in government schools by government teachers to believe that government schools are for the public good, he and most Americans don’t question how the public good is served by him and others being given other people’s money. It may be good for him, but it isn’t good for my wife and me. The good doctor carts his kids around in a $40,000 SUV, while we cart our kid around in a 13-year-old minivan.

Maybe a couple of arrests would make the doctor and others question what they’ve never questioned before about the public good. Maybe they would stop giving me blank stares or programmed platitudes when I ask them how the public good is served by the state forcing my wife and me to pay double for education, once for the public education of the doctor’s kids and once more for the parochial education of our kid. Maybe they’ll actually think beyond the group-think that they learned in government schools about the government. Maybe they would understand the difference between paying taxes for government services that directly benefit all people equally, such as national defense, and paying taxes for government services that directly benefit some people at the expense of others.

While we’re on the subjects of education and taxes and theft, let me explain why my 13-year-old son had to file state and federal tax returns. The reason is that my wife and I established a college fund for him when he was born. He has to pay taxes on the investment income, even though the income is reinvested in the fund.

Ironically, part of my son’s taxes goes to college students in the form of subsidized student loans. Some of the students come from families that are impoverished through no fault of their own, but others are from families that had the financial wherewithal to save for college but chose to be spendthrifts with their money. The government is lousy at distinguishing between the two types of families, because it is easier for politicians to take a portion of my kid’s college savings and give it to other kids than it is to tell voters to act responsibly.

These are the same politicians who wonder why the cost of a college education is rising so much faster than inflation. They can’t connect the dots. The first dot is student loans and other government subsidies, which have created a disincentive for colleges to control costs and be more productive. The second dot is the demand for college education, which has been fueled to a great degree by the devaluation of a high school education, due to government schools lowering academic standards and catering to the lowest common denominator.

Now to my mother’s five tax returns. She had to file so many returns because she and my deceased father had established trusts to protect their hard-earned lifelong savings from probate court and from grave robbers who steal family nest eggs through estate taxes. Returns had to be filed on each trust, as well as on the assets held jointly by my mom and dad, both of whom were working-class people who saved all of their lives for their retirement.

Like all other savers, my mom and dad paid income taxes on their meager wages, and then, as a result of a shortsighted and immoral tax policy, had to pay taxes for a second time on the investment income from their retirement savings. Now the government wonders why Americans don’t save for old age, and it can’t figure out how the looming shortfall in Social Security and Medicare will be closed without consigning my kid’s generation to a lifetime of indentured servitude.

My mom’s retirement savings included a substantial number of shares of Anheuser-Busch stock, which she inherited 40 years ago from the immigrant aunt who raised her after her mother died at an early age. She sold the stock this year, because it is not wise for an 82-year-old woman to be heavily invested in the stock market. She will pay taxes on the amount that the stock has appreciated in value since she inherited it, an amount that includes inflation, much of it caused by lousy government fiscal and monetary policies. Since 1964, the stock has risen in value from inflation alone by 593 percent. A moral government does not force an 82-year-old woman to pay taxes on inflation.

But we don’t have a moral government. And that’s why April 15 is a day of anger and questions.

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Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT). He can be reached at ccan2@aol.com

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