Everyone’s Money, Other People’s Misery

To the Editor:

What do conservatives in Vermont (and across the country) have in common with economist Thomas Sowell, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, and Elon Musk? They all decry liberals (or “Socialists” or “Communists”) spending “other people’s money” on social programs. You can find that phrase in the comments to any online story about a social program, from unemployment benefits to food stamps to Medicare for All.

By “other people’s money” they mean taxes collected by the government. But taxes aren’t “other people’s money”….that money comes from and belongs to all the people. Calling it other people’s money implies that the people who support social programs aren’t contributing to their funding. That’s an effective propaganda tool to stir up opposition, but it isn’t true.

I pay taxes and have since I was 17, now 55 years ago. Those taxes always have been used to fund any social programs that I advocate. Even the poorest people pay taxes in several forms, especially sales tax. Those taxes also fund any social programs they advocate. Social programs are undeniably funded by “everyone’s money,” just like the military is.

It’s a very different story when you look at the misery that social programs intend to alleviate. The people who complain about social support programs aren’t going to be affected by cuts to those programs. They won’t suddenly find themselves unable to pay rent, visit a doctor, go without a community service that allows them to live independently, or feed themselves and their family. They are, in a very real sense, voting for “other people’s misery.”

So who is really being cavalier about what they do to “other people?” Like so many other conservative mantras, “other people’s money” is simply a propaganda slogan.

Lee Russ

Bennington, Vt.

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(1) comment

LAWRENCE BLACK

When you talk about spending MY money on social programs (none of which are allowed for in the Constitution, but that's an argument for another day), don't tell me what those programs are "intended" to do, show me net positive results. You can't, because they don't exist, aside from a few cherry-picked individual anecdotal stories. The American taxpayer has spent/wasted literally $10's of trillions of dollars during a multiple decade "War on Poverty". The results? No appreciable reduction in the poverty rate, while countless millions became mired in a government-created poverty trap that almost seems designed to keep people dependent on government (which, coincidentally, helps the government agencies & agents retain and increase their power), rather that help them along the path towards self-sufficiency and eventually economic security.

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