Have you read the children's book, "The Giving Tree," by Shel Silverstein? If not, you should! It is a short but powerful tale of a tree and a boy. Through the course of the boy's life, he enjoys the benefits of the tree. The tree gives him a place to play, fruit to eat, shelter from the sun and branches to build his home. In manhood, the boy cuts the tree down to a stump to build a ship to travel the world. Finally, the boy, now an old man, tired and weary from the business of life, returns to the stump. The tree laments, "I have nothing more to give you", and the old man simply sits down on the stump to rest his weary body. Shel Silverstein ends the story telling us the tree is happy in the end to provide even this modest comfort to the boy.
I think most parents and others with a generous nature can relate to the bitter-sweet moral of the story. I recently re-read the story and began to think of it in terms of our country:
At home, we have enjoyed the greatest prosperity to the most people in the history of the world. At the same time, we provide mandatory entitlements and assistance programs that account for nearly 60% of our Federal budget. We patiently tolerate the many challenges of illegal immigration. We provide food stamps to 10% of our population, subsidized housing, Medicare, Medicaid and on and on. We provide corporate welfare in the form of subsidies to help businesses, and most recently the long-suffering taxpayer was called upon to give an unprecedented sum to bail out Wall Street.
We fight for the freedom of others across the world, and we hear they do not like us. We feed the hungry and shelter the poor, and we hear they envy us and want to knock us down. We bail out the greedy and opportunistic in Washington and Wall Street, and they treat us with contempt and tell us it is for our own good. We see our jobs going overseas, our dollars papering the walls of Saudi palaces, and our enemies benefiting from our weakened position. We give and we give, and it appears we are now about to enter a recession, possibly a depression for our troubles. Unlike the giving tree in the story, the American taxpayer feels pain, indignation and anger.
I want to paint a picture for you:
Imagine yesteryear, circa 1781, a young tree sits atop a grassy knoll bending in the light breeze. Below the knoll, out past a broad cornfield, a field of battle spreads into the visible distance. Brave Colonial militia face the withering cannon and musket fire from seasoned British Regulars. When the smoke has cleared, the underdogs have won with a rugged determination and an independent spirit; a new nation is born.
Years pass and the young tree on the hill grows tall and strong. Its sweeping branches now shade most of the knoll. Its fruit feeds much of the surrounding countryside. The tree is happy to give so much to the world.
More years pass, and the tree has given up branches to provide shelter, warmth and protection to many. The tree has given much to the world, gives even more and is happy to do so.
Still more years pass, and the tree has finally given up everything down to a stump. It no longer produces its bounty of fruit, wood or anything else of value. Carved into the side of the remaining stump are the words "American Taxpayer." Sitting atop the stump is a very tired and downcast old man. He wears a tattered suit of faded red, white and blue. His once jaunty tophat, is now dingy and limp in one hand. It is Uncle Sam who rests atop the stump of the once proud and generous American taxpayer tree. He stares bleakly out across the blighted landscape at the desolation, and the weeds.
We are yet remote from the dire situation presented in the preceding illustration, but to make sure we don't get there, we must act. The public treasury is a trust we place with the American government. It belongs to us, the American taxpayers. Our elected representatives are the conservators of this trust. Our conservators have abused this trust to create a perennial budget deficit and an enormous national debt. The debt begets calls for more taxes, taxes stifle growth and productivity, and we all suffer. Suffering begets calls for more entitlements, entitlements grow the debt, and the cycle continues. We must insist on a government that lives within its means, and elect leaders and representatives who deserve this trust. When you go to vote this November, consider the candidate who will nurture the tree so that it may continue to bear fruit for us all!
* Spending Freeze and a Balanced Budget.
* Lower Taxes to stimulate the economy and allow taxpayers to keep more of what they earn.
* Energy Independence through proactive use of all energy alternatives.
* Immigration Reform to protect the American worker and provide access for guest workers.
Click here to learn more about the current and projected taxpayer burden!