The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Washington Hypocrites

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Our elected officials have denounced cigarette smoking as a health hazard and a drain on the nation’s healthcare system. They tell us that even second-hand smoke can kill you. To get people to stop smoking, laws have been passed to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes at the federal, state, and local levels. The federal per pack tax is 39 cents. The highest combined state-local tax rate is $3.66 in Chicago, with Evanston, Illinois second at $3.30 per pack, followed by Anchorage at $3.10 and New York City at an even $3.00. The average state tax is 95.3 cents per pack.

Of course, if our elected officials really believe cigarette smoking is so bad, then they would outlaw all tobacco products. But then they wouldn’t get all that tax revenue to spend on their pet projects so they can get people to vote for them so they can get more political perks that the rest of us have to pay for. If tobacco is such an evil thing, then why is the deadly stuff being sold at various Senate Shops “without state excise and sales taxes” added? That’s right. Not only do the Senate Shops sell cigarettes; they sell them without the taxes that puff up the price everywhere else! So if you want discount smokes, take a trip to our nation’s capitol, take in the sights, and buy some tax free cigarettes.

For years our “esteemed” elected officials have been exempting themselves from laws they burden us with. Do you think your congressmen have to abide by OSHA, EEOC, and other government regulatory agencies? Think again. They’ve exempted themselves. Government officials who first enacted Social Security exempted themselves from the program and developed a private but voluntary retirement program. If a private plan was such a good deal for them, then why wasn’t an employee-owned retirement plan good enough for the rest of us? In 1983, this exemption was stopped. Only new government employees and all non-profit groups were dragged into the system to shore up its dwindling funds.

Did the fix work? It bought some time. The system is once again staring at an inevitable depletion of future revenues. By its very nature Social Security is not a fiscally sound program. People who believed that Social Security would be enough to retire on are going to be in for a rude awakening. Those of us paying into the system are actually servicing those presently receiving their monthly payments. If a private insurance company operated this way, the directors would be arrested, tried, and sent to prison for a long time. People shake their heads in disbelief over the Enron affair but don’t seem troubled by the way the Social Security Administration is operating under the direction of Congress.

In 1979, employees of Galveston County, Texas, chose to leave the Social System for a private alternative.[1] At first, not everyone was in favor of the innovative idea. The unions (naturally) opposed it. Employees deposited approximately the same amount of money in private accounts. To date, the funds have achieved an average 8.64 percent annual rate of return since inception.Many of these retirees are millionaires today, living off the interest and free to pass on their estate to their children. This can never happen under Social Security.

Consider this scenario: A man and his wife have paid into Social Security since the first day they went to work—forty-five years of Social Security payments. They both reach retirement age on the same day. On the way to the mail box to pick up their first checks, they are killed by a drunk driver. Their estate gets nothing. The money is lost.


[1] Ed Myers, "How Galveston Opted Out of Social Security." Online here.

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