Your kids tug at your sleeves and say, "Won't you help that man?"
So you offer to treat the man to a burger and fries.
"Oh, thank you!" he says. "But I have a better idea! Let's get in your car. I'll show you a great place to eat."
So you and your family, along with the man, get in your car. He directs you to a pricey lobster restaurant, The Crimson Crustacean. After you're seated, the man tells the waitress, "We'll all have New York steak and lobster tail. Nothing but the best for my friends!"
You stammer, "But— but—"
The man points to you and adds, "And my generous friend here gets the bill."
Now, that's just crazy, isn't it? You'd never let someone take advantage of you . . . or would you? Actually, you do. We all do. It's happening to all of us who pay taxes.
According to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, 51 percent of American households pay no federal income tax. They may pay some taxes on gasoline, tobacco, and alcohol—and they pay their Social Security contributions. But the majority of Americans do not pay any of the taxes that fund our national priorities—national defense, homeland security, welfare, education, foreign aid, and so forth.
This is an alarming trend. In 2007, 38 percent of households paid no income tax. In 2008, 49 percent. Today, 51 percent. And tomorrow . . . ?
There is a quotation often misattributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, but actually penned in 1951 by an American named Elmer Peterson: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largesse out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result that the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a dictatorship."
This prediction is being fulfilled in our own time. On Monday, May 16, 2011, the federal debt climbed above the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling. The debt is growing at a rate of $3.9 billion per day—and we face $100 trillion in unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities as waves of Baby Boomers hit retirement age. At this rate, in just ten years, all federal tax revenue will go to paying the costs of these "entitlement" programs, leaving nothing for national defense or any other priorities.