Monday, February 20, 2012

Vetoing Caesar

In the Congressional hearing on the HHS ruling on contraceptives (available here and here), the issue of tax dollars supporting government activities with which you disagree came up several times. It occurred to me, however, that since money is fungible, there's not reason why your tax dollars have to support a policy with which you disagree.

What if you had a line-item veto on how your tax dollars were spent? If you didn't want your tax dollars to (using the issue at hand), support taxpayer funded abortions, you could "veto" it. It wouldn't change the overall funding for any particular program--they'll just devote more of the tax money from someone who didn't veto that use to cover your veto. The funding would be the same, but your conscience would be clear.


Blogger Jarrod said...

I've always thought about this. Same with tuition. At MSU they had a breakdown of hour your tuition dollars are spent, and I was surprised to see how much went to the GLBT club.
But it would never happen, because nobody takes the time to even look at how much they pay in taxes let alone where it goes. And legislators would disagree with it because it would defund unpopular programs (yeah I know, isn't that the point?)

10:11 AM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

How 'bout a checkbox on your tax form: "Do you want to donate $3 to not be used to subsidize tree snails?"

11:21 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

I doubt that any program would be defunded by this. Except for very large programs (which also tend to be very popular), you'd have to get close to 100% vetoing to defund them, which isn't realistic.

The things you'd have to caution against would be people vetoing everything (though you could say such funds are dedicated to deficit reduction) and people vetoing everything but programs which directly benefit them. Which, come to think of it, is how Social Security works now, so it wouldn't be that big a change.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Yoel Natan said...

I think that people would react differently to this news if they had lived in St. Louis for several years. First, there are a number of prominent Catholic hospitals there: St. Louis U (Catholic university), Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, St. Mary's, etc., so I was surprised they could be so pervasive and yet not hand out any contraceptives, especially since one's options are very limited in the area if one wanted 100% secular medical services.

Second, I'm sure it used to be the case that all the hospitals with religious names were funded mostly through donations, and from whatever people paid in before the days of health insurance. Now, however, secular insurance companies and the secular govt are funding all hospitals to the tune of 99.7% of their funding, I'd bet. So the names on the hospitals' outside wall are mostly farce, and perhaps it's about time that the federal govt call their bluff, in exchange for the govt spending untold billions to make Lutherans, Catholics, etc., look good by being able to provide services under their names.

They could still attach wording to all the contraceptive literature and products saying that under federal law they must provide information on such products, but that doesn't represent endorsement or a change in their religious position.

Also, do you really need anti-robot word verification for this blog? One has to guess what the letters are, which makes comment posting similar to entering a lottery. Hope I win the lottery today!

12:25 PM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

I've argued before that churches should lose their tax exempt status. As the old saw puts it, "You can trap anything if you can get it to take a handout." Churches would be poorer, but more robust, if they didn't rely on the government for funding.

I put word verification on the blog a few years ago, when I had some spam issues. I'll take it off again and see what happens.

9:35 PM  

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