Have you noticed on the news that taxpayers always have "hard-earned money" and that the government is always spending"your hard-earned money?"
I am a taxpayer because I pay taxes. It is not my primary identity; in fact, it is not an identity at all, but an activity I engage in. It may be painful sometimes but then so is going to the bathroom; painful or not, I am glad I am able to go. am also glad am able to pay my taxes.
I go to the bathroom even oftener than I pay taxes, but I don't call myself a bathroom-goer.
I breathe constantly, but I don't call myself a breather. (In today's connotative language, I don't dare call myself a Heavy Breather).
Advertising about my respiration, digestion, and "regularity," trivializing these important but boring activities with cutesy cartoons and diagrams, consumes about a third of a television newscast. It is all claptrap — just enough information to stimulate my buying impulse whether or not I I learn anything useful from it. While the commercials run, my sole identity is that of buyer.
When the news comes on, my identity switches to Taxpayer, reminded as I constantly am — by the editorialists posing as reporters — that the government is spending My Hard-earned Money. They call it that even if I inherited it all and never did a lick of work to earn a nickel of it. It is no longer my money, okay? I gave it to the government. The most that can be said it is that it is our money, public money.
At least money collected in taxes is real money, for as long as it lasts. It is not money that the government spins out of thin air by loaning money it does not have, then offsetting the loan with the same money owed to it.
I could barely believe it when I was first told forty years ago that this is how the system works — or, more accurately as it turned out this year, doesn't work.