Every day whether on the Internet or radio (we don't watch TV), my husband, Paul and I read and hear statements of "The government should pay for "it/that". And then there are the almost daily announcements by some government entity that some service has "been paid for by the government of" whatever jurisdiction is taking credit for that supposed fact. About 10 days ago I read a letter to the editor of one small local paper that is placed in our postal box each week here in rural Ontario (Paul's legal residence where we spend half of each year) and showed it to Paul, chiefly because it contained some information on water testing that interested us. But I knew that a statement the author made was in need of correction. After reading the letter, Paul agreed and I sketched out a reply that he fleshed out and submitted via email to County Voice of Haliburton.
My thanks to Shawn Arscott for supplying (in the July 3 2008 issue of County Voice) the cost ($25) for testing his water's uranium content, plus the name, location and phone numbers of the company he used. However his letter brought to mind, once again, the very commonly expressed suggestion and desire that the cost of some service be paid for by the government - outright or via subsidy. What is completely lost with such phrasing is the fact that governments - federal, provincial, county, municipality - do not "make money". They do not provide a product or service that others freely choose to purchase, from among other similar options. Governments obtain the money they spend entirely by taking it (under threat of force) from companies and members of the public via taxes, licences etc. very often including from those who have no interest in or desire for many of the services that the government is providing or who would much rather have other choices for such services.
Furthermore, since the standard definition of the word extortion is (from Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com):
"to obtain from an unwilling or reluctant person by physical force, intimidation, ... : get by compelling",we should call a spade a spade and be very clear in our minds that the money spent by governments is obtained by extortion!
(Yes, governments also get money from bonds they sell, but this too is only enabled by the payment of principal and interest out of the proceeds of extortion from the public. Central governments can also gain more funds by simply printing more money, but this again is a form of indirect extortion (due to their enforced monopoly on the issuing of currency) that is even more insidious than direct taxation, because it reduces the value of the money people have without most of them even being aware of the cause of that inflation.)
So I urge everyone to stop and think when reading/hearing the phrase "The government should pay for it" - and before using it yourself. That phrase really means that the speaker/writer wants others to pay for the service that s/he wants. Train yourself to think of that translation, and maybe even say it aloud, every time that you hear/read it - "it should be provided (subsidized, paid for, etc) by the government" means precisely that "the government should extort the funds from the public in order to pay for it." Similarly, I suggest one reword the typical statement made by government agencies from "Paid for by the government of [Ontario, Canada, or other jurisdiction]" to "Paid for by money extorted from the residents and visitors to [Ontario, Canada, or location]". I urge everyone to keep prominently in mind the actual source of all government funds and, through the fog of obscuration that governments and their supporters spread over their words, to never forget that extortion, rather than the production of goods and services voluntarily purchased, is the true nature of that source.
Harcourt Park Ontario
Whether it is health care, education, roads, research, home mortgage company bail out, water testing or any of hundreds of other areas of human endeavor, most people will immediately - or at some time - call for the government to pay for it. Such individuals have apparently never used, or have ceased using, logical reasoning to realize that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" (ala RA Heinlein) - that the government is not a producer of wealth, but must always get its funds from those in its jurisdiction by way of taxes and fees, and also by printing more money, thereby devaluing all of it, a result even worse than any taxation. So, like Paul wrote above, I urge everyone to get in the habit of replacing "paid for by the government" with "paid for by money taken from taxpayers". And if you're really straightforward, you'll actually use the word "extorted".
Don't be afraid to say it - "PAID FOR BY MONEY EXTORTED BY THE GOVERNMENT FROM RESIDENTS OF AND VISITORS TO ______". Fill in the blank with whatever location you are in or to which you are referring.