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May 3, 2021
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Who doesn’t like a gift? Something given to me by another who spends his or her hard-earned money to provide something I need or maybe something I just want. But if I’m given what’s said to be a gift and then handed a bill to pay for it, is it a gift?

When the government says it wants to GIVE you something, you should ask whose money will pay for it? The politician who made the promise? Out of his or her personal money? Or will it actually be funded by you or even a total stranger using funds that were taken from you involuntarily through taxes or fees?

I’m sure hearing a lot of offers from the government that they want to give me some stuff-like free childcare, free college, free guaranteed income for life, and free medical care. That sounds pretty good since I’ve been paying for all that myself. But I’m not totally stupid. Somebody has to pay for it.

When you hear an elected official promise to give you something for free, ask these questions:

1. Who will really pay for it? Maybe you’re told some faceless big corporation will pay for it. But if you or someone in your family works for a big corporation, I hope you understand how taxing a corporation works. Truth is, corporations don’t pay taxes—they just collect taxes from their customers and pass them on to the government. To make up for the money they send to the government, they either raise their prices or they cut expenses. And sometimes the expense they cut is YOUR job. Employers are not looking for ways to lose money—they have a responsibility to their shareholders and employees and customers to make money. If they don’t make money, they go out of business and the people who invested in their stock lose THEIR money. Those folks who lose their jobs have less money to buy things and if they have buying stuff from YOU, you have less money. So the government has maybe given you something you didn’t even ask for, but it may cost you something you needed—like your job. If I give you something from my own pocket, it’s a gift; but if I give you something from someone else’s pocket, that’s theft.

2. Is this something that the government has the legal authority to give you? Read the Constitution carefully. Does the government really have the power to give this? It’s easy for a politician to tell you HE or SHE is giving you something, but is it really a function of government to give it? I get it that since most of us can’t buy our own firetrucks or hire a policeman just for our own family, it makes sense to chip in with some taxes so we can have a fire department, police department, and streets and a sewer system and water lines that come to our house.

3. Is the price the government paying better than I could do? It may be hard to get a good answer, but I can tell you that in almost every case, the government is paying way more for the things it gives away that those things actually cost because there are so many “handling” costs for the people and paperwork involved. What if government just gave YOU the money and let YOU spend it for what they were going to “give” you? The costs for K-12 education range from just under $7000 in Utah to almost $36,000 in New York. The average nationally is around $15,000 per student. Most private schools are well below that. Would you be better off if you could just get the funds from the government and choose the school best for your child rather than the government picking your child’s school? And the annual health care costs per American is about $12,000 a year. The cost on average for health insurance is about $6000 a year. Would you be better off buying your own than having the government buy it for you?

So when a politician tells you he or she is going to “invest” your money in something, you should want to know if it’s something you really need or even want; does the government have the legal right to take money from other people to give it to you, and would you be better off taking the money the government will spend and spending it yourself?

Remember, the government doesn’t have anything it doesn’t take from you first. Before you celebrate what they promise to GIVE you, be sure you know how much they TOOK from you.

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