You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Taxation and wordplay
By: Thomas Sowell
Would anyone work to support themselves or their families -- and then turn over a chunk of that hard-earned money to somebody else, just because of the words used by that somebody else?
A few people may be taken in by the words of con men, here and there, but the larger tragedy is that millions more are taken in by the words of politicians, the top-of-the-line con men.
How do politicians con people out of their money? One example can be found in a recent article titled “The Autism-Welfare Nexus” by Paul Sperry in Investor’s Business Daily.
Genuine autism is a truly tragic condition, both for those afflicted by it and for their parents. Few people would have any problem with the idea that both voluntary donations and government expenditures are well-spent to help those suffering from autism.
“Autism,” however, has been sweepingly redefined over the years. What was discovered and defined as autism back in 1943 is just one of a number of conditions now included as being part of “the autism spectrum.” Many, if not most, of these conditions are nowhere near as severe as autism, or even as clearly defined.
The growing number of children encompassed by a wider and looser definition of autism has been trumpeted across the land through the media as an “epidemic” of increasing numbers of cases of autism. Before 1990, one child out of 2,500 was said to be autistic. This year, it is said to be one out of 88.
As Paul Sperry points out in IBD, “The number of language disorder cases [has] fallen as autism cases have risen, suggesting one disorder has simply been substituted for another.”
Having heard, over the years, from many parents of late-talking children that they have been urged to let their children be diagnosed as autistic, in order to get either government money or insurance money to pay for language problems, I am not the least bit surprised by Sperry’s findings.
Every dollar spent on children falsely labeled autistic is a dollar lost -- and urgently needed -- in dealing with the severe problems of genuinely autistic children. But money added to the federal budget for autism is money that can be given to people, in the expectation of getting their vote at election time.
Another example of words substituting for realities was a front-page story in the May 24 issue of USA Today, showing that the official statistics on the national debt only count about one-fourth of what the federal government actually owes. Even the staggering official national debt is literally not half the story.
Under ordinary accounting rules and laws, the money promised to people as pensions when they retire has to be counted as part of the debts of a business or other organization. But, since Congress makes the laws, the trillions of dollars owed to people who have paid into Social Security do not have to be counted as part of the federal government’s debts.
When you or I owe money, we are in debt -- and face consequences if we don’t pay up. But we are not the federal government and cannot write our own accounting laws.
Perhaps the biggest frauds committed by redefining words are the many fraudulent uses of the word “poor.”
For most of the history of the human race, there was no problem in defining who were “the poor.” They were people without enough to eat, often without adequate clothing to protect them from the elements, and usually people who lived packed in like sardines in living quarters without adequate ventilation in the summer or adequate heat in the winter, and perhaps also lacking in such things as electricity or adequate sewage disposal.
Today, most of the officially defined “poor” have none of these problems, and most today have amenities such as air conditioning, a car or truck, a microwave oven, and many other things that once defined a middle class lifestyle. Americans in poverty today have more living space than the average European.
Why are they called “poor” then?
For the same reason that autism, the national debt, and many other things are redefined in completely misleading ways -- namely, to justify draining more money from the public in taxes, expanding the government, and allowing politicians to give handouts to people who are expected to vote for their re-election.
If we keep buying it, politicians will keep selling it.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is http://www.tsowell.com.
Copyright 2012 creators.com
Your Opinions and Comments
Publius Valerius Publicola
June 13, 2012 9:40am
Share your comment or opinion on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Section A: General News Archives
American Legion ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Annexation for fire services will be on November ballot (May 25, 2016)
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts to honor fallen heroes (May 25, 2016)
Camino Real plans Open House events (May 25, 2016)
Chief Hull resigns from Poth police (May 25, 2016)
County sets sights on new tax (May 25, 2016)
Court Update (May 25, 2016)
Editorial: Grim choices have put America in a grave situation (May 25, 2016)
Editorial: On the other side of politics in a world of digital divide (May 25, 2016)
Fire, EMS services — Who’s got you covered? (May 25, 2016)
It’s okay to take control (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Free ride over hard work … a no-brainer! (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Housing Foundation expresses gratitude (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Mainstream media ‘brainwashing’ Hispanic/Latino voters (May 25, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Memorial Hospital District (May 25, 2016)
Memorial Day office closures (May 25, 2016)
One viewpoint: Making Floresville marketable with recreational facilities (May 25, 2016)
Parish plans Cemetery Ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Police arrest man in case of burned body (May 25, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 25, 2016)
Police ticket six for violating cell phone ban (May 25, 2016)
Post 539 service (May 25, 2016)
Poth electric vehicle users could be in for a 'shock' (May 25, 2016)
Poth High School students earn awards (May 25, 2016)
Severe storms shred Wilson County (May 25, 2016)
SSCA ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Teacher salaries, student lunch prices on the rise (May 25, 2016)
Tejano music to fill the air during Labor Day event (May 25, 2016)
Turner: New businesses coming to Floresville (May 25, 2016)
Berger earns Ph.D. from Columbia University (May 18, 2016)
Brahma Happenings (May 18, 2016)
Burning body spurs murder investigation (May 18, 2016)
Can I negotiate? (May 18, 2016)
Court Update (May 18, 2016)
Editorial: Narrow views promote intellectual, moral dry rot (May 18, 2016)
Editorial: The political climate in America goes from bad to worse (May 18, 2016)
Falls City ISD’s new K-12 building almost complete (May 18, 2016)
Floresville parks master plan would relocate ball fields (May 18, 2016)
Floresville parks plan wins council approval (May 18, 2016)
Foundation awards $9K in grants (May 18, 2016)
Foundation opens health grant process (May 18, 2016)
Graco recalls booster seats (May 18, 2016)
Grass fires on the rise (May 18, 2016)
Letter: An open letter to Congress (May 18, 2016)
Letter: Illegal immigration: Who will laugh last? (May 18, 2016)
Letter: What Hispanic vote? (May 18, 2016)
Lone Star Greys to meet (May 18, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia City Council (May 18, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Poth ISD (May 18, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 18, 2016)
Police recover one of two stolen trucks (May 18, 2016)
Register for free watercolor lesson (May 18, 2016)
Stockdale campus to get upgrade soon (May 18, 2016)
Stockdale City Council approves electronic payment processing (May 18, 2016)
TAMU-SA matches student scholarships (May 18, 2016)
Time to make plans to attend Jubilee (May 18, 2016)
Want fire protection? Attend May 19 hearing (May 18, 2016)
Acme Gold Buyers marks fifth year in Floresville (May 11, 2016)
All Veterans Job Fair (May 11, 2016)
Cemetery group to meet (May 11, 2016)
Children’s Alliance enhances care services (May 11, 2016)
China Grove mayor, police chief trade barbs at meeting (May 11, 2016)
Commissioners lukewarm toward hot coffee at library (May 11, 2016)
Competency and integrity (May 11, 2016)
Court Update (May 11, 2016)
Coy to get Ranger Cross (May 11, 2016)
Cub Scout Roundup (May 11, 2016)
Donate blood in May (May 11, 2016)
Editor: Trump’s candidacy sets in motion affliction in future elections (May 11, 2016)
Editorial: The voters have spoken — well, some of them have! (May 11, 2016)
Former Sutherland Springs VFD considered as a substation (May 11, 2016)
Free caregivers class starts May 26 (May 11, 2016)
Information sought in Walmart theft (May 11, 2016)
Lack of super majority vote keeps Clean Water Rule flowing (May 11, 2016)
Leetter: The government is a terrible investor (May 11, 2016)
Letter: Injection well site is near river, creeks (May 11, 2016)
Letter: Stop being negative (May 11, 2016)
LV youths win new wheels at Bike Rodeo (May 11, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia ISD (May 11, 2016)
Mineral rights workshop set (May 11, 2016)
Miss LV Pageant, Bluebonnet Parade, graduation fill La Vernia calendar (May 11, 2016)
New Wilson County justice center nears completion (May 11, 2016)
Personalized brick for Veterans Memorial (May 11, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 11, 2016)
Precinct 3 primary runoff is May 24 (May 11, 2016)
Rangers to honor Lorenz (May 11, 2016)
Rohrs takes over Floresville athletics (May 11, 2016)
Tanneberger qualifies for Executive Club membership (May 11, 2016)
Voters respond: One bond passes, another fails (May 11, 2016)
Wednesday morning crash injures nine (May 11, 2016)
AACOG plans public meeting (May 4, 2016)
Accident injures two drivers (May 4, 2016)
AgriLife offers tips to protect from Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (May 4, 2016)
Behind the lens: Solitary stillness (May 4, 2016)
Celebration Mass June 12 (May 4, 2016)
Cemetery association meeting (May 4, 2016)
Condos are fine, but do your research (May 4, 2016)
Court Update (May 4, 2016)
Crime Stoppers aids police anonymously (May 4, 2016)
DA, DPS bust nets 86 charges (May 4, 2016)
Debate over citizens comments dominates Floresville council (May 4, 2016)
Dwellings At Home offers lodge, ranch furnishings, more (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Overbearing city council threatens boards’ independence (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Taking personal responsibility will bring possibilities (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Trump is the same old song with one more verse (May 4, 2016)
FEDC tables recommendation of master parks plan (May 4, 2016)
FELPS tornado repair continues as FEMA help stalls (May 4, 2016)
Floresville Chamber Luncheon May 18 (May 4, 2016)
Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kotwig, Malcolm and Beverly Talley (May 4, 2016)
Letter: Alamo Colleges: A bust for Floresville (May 4, 2016)
Local nursing homes plan Senior Olympics May 9-13 (May 4, 2016)
Look twice for motorcycle riders (May 4, 2016)
Lyssy’s vault earns gold, sets records! (May 4, 2016)
Medicaid, CHIP application assistance (May 4, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Commissioners Court (May 4, 2016)
National Day of Prayer May 5 (May 4, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 4, 2016)
Ramirez promoted to colonel (May 4, 2016)
Reserve a seat for SA Tea Party (May 4, 2016)
Tanneberger tops in sales (May 4, 2016)
Treviño prepares to take reins of East Central athletics (May 4, 2016)