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Economic Central Planning, Ignorance, And My Cheeseburger

by Danny Bedwell

Special to BAMSouth.org

 

It’s election season once again, and there is no shortage of pandering. And I really wouldn’t mind the pandering for votes too much as long as it stopped after the campaign. But too many times, this pandering for votes results in horrendous policies by the economic illiterate among us.

I was invited to attend a candidate forum last week along with many of the other candidates that are running for public office like myself. Each of them detailed their grand schemes to bring jobs to the area and make our town a wonderful place to live. They assured us that if we just gave them decision making authority over our money, they could improve the lot of mankind. 

Hogwash.

Consider the server or barmaid in your local eatery. She shows up to work every day and does her best to please the customers. Like most of us, she would probably prefer to be doing something else. But she isn’t. I doubt that slinging hash to ungrateful customers was on her 10-year plan when she graduated high school. But she does it.

She does it to provide for her family. She does it to make ends meet. Her hours are probably not ideal and her work schedule probably doesn’t allow for the flexibility that life sometimes requires.

Even though her feet are tired and she’d like to sit down for a while, she still approaches every customer with a smile and does her very best to provide them with an enjoyable dining experience.

If she’s lucky, a satisfied customer will give her a little something extra to show their appreciation. We call it a tip.

Let’s trace that tip to its final destination shall we?

If we were to take a Sharpie and mark one of those $1 bills with a big fat X, we would be able to trace it from her tip jar to the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue takes that $1 from her and calls it  a tax.

They, in turn, hand it off to the State Treasurer, who then places it in some bank account somewhere. It sits in that bank account until the State Legislature convenes and then “appropriates” it and sends it to the Mississippi Development Authority to create jobs.

The Mississippi Development Authority then gives that $1 to a wealthy industrialist in exchange for building a factory here. The $1 that started out in the waitresses tip jar, is now in the pocket of a wealthy industrialist, and no amount of money laundering in Jackson can change that.

"But, but, but…we’re using that money to create jobs!"cries the central planner.

Here’s the error in their thinking.

They are only counting the seen--not the unseen.

You see, that $1 was already creating jobs. It was already in the economy. If that $1 were still in the waitresses tip jar, what would she do with it? She might buy a new pair of shoes to soothe her aching feet. When she does this, she creates jobs for cobblers. She creates jobs for the shoe factories and stock boys in local shoe stores. She creates jobs in the trucking and freight moving industries. 

She might have decided to go on a well-deserved vacation. This creates jobs in the hotel industry, airline industry, and theme park industries. Notice she is still creating jobs with her money, but she is creating jobs in the industries that she chooses to benefit from.

Each of the candidates at that candidate forum I attended bragged about all the good plans they had for that waitress’s money. None of them wanted to allow her autonomous decision making authority over her hard-earned money. 

Not to be outdone by the job creating central planners, one candidate even bragged about taking 10% of my cheeseburger and all of the wonderful things she was going to do with it.

During the last Legislative session, the State Legislature voted to approve a 2% Restaurant Tax on all prepared foods here in the city I live in, Columbus, Mississippi. I was already paying a 7% sales tax to the State on that cheeseburger, and now they want me to pay another 2% to the County.

The Mayor here is currently gearing up to charge an addition 1% on top of the 2%. This will make a grand total of 10% tax on my cheeseburger. They want 10% of my cheeseburger, 10% of my pickle, 10% of the ketchup, and even 10% of my onion. If I eat fries with my burger, they want 10% of my fries. If I order a sweet tea with my meal, they want to drink 10% of my tea!

Imagine if you will, one of these food snatchers sitting at your table. And before you can take a bite of your burger, you have to slice off 10% of you burger and give it to him. You then slide 10% of your French fries across the table to him. He also proceeds to grab your glass and drink 10% of your tea.

I suppose the worse part of all of this is what these advocates intend on spending that new tax on.  The answer? They want to spend most of it on block parties and festivals. As I asked that candidate, when did entertainment become a legitimate reason to take food from someone?

Whatever is left over from the money snatching, they want to give to wealthy industrialists to create jobs (after the customary money laundering in Jackson). The people in this city are struggling just to make ends meet, yet these candidates are requiring that we give 10% of our food to them in order to fund their grand schemes.

This is not good government. Not by any stretch.

I’m not saying that any of this is new. This sort of money-grabbing and redistribution of wealth has been going on for years.

But what strikes me as odd is that such redistribution is now being propagated and promoted by Republicans. This expansion of Government--this increase in taxes--this redistribution of wealth--was authored and championed by the Republican Legislators from this area, and was approved by a Legislature that enjoys a Republican super-majority.

The Republicans did this. The so-called champions of the free market.

And people ask me why I’m a Libertarian?

 

(Danny Bedwell is a business owner who lives in Columbus, MS with his wife and daughter. A retired Navy diver, Bedwell is currently running for the Mississippi Senate for District 17 on the Libertarian Party ticket.)

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