Allen B. West

Here’s where I learned about conservative values

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When I was growing up in Atlanta, my parents never gave me an allowance. On Saturday each week, I would either cut grass or wash cars for my neighbors. The few dollars a week I earned were my own “discretionary spending.” I was allowed to spend those dollars however I wished, but once the money was spent, I had to wait until the next Saturday to try to earn a little more cash. If I spent it all on Tuesday, it seemed like a very long week indeed.

Just as I am certain you are teaching your own children, I learned about fiscal responsibility and to live within my means. Let me ask you a question: if your children spend the money they earned or the allowance you provided all on the first day, and demonstrate they don’t yet know how to budget, would you reward them with more money the next day, or the next week? I would think not. If you continue to increase their allowance, do you think they would eventually reduce their spending? Not likely.

Rewarding bad behavior in children does not generate good behavior in the future. It is fundamental: trying to reduce spending while increasing the dollars available only results in more spending.

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Which brings me to the situation our nation currently faces. Washington, D.C. has demonstrated over and over again it has no more fiscal restraint than that of many eight-year-olds. So why should we continue to trust the federal government with more and more money?

The economic policies of the last six years have clearly not worked. Our national debt now stands at an unfathomable EIGHTEEN TRILLION dollars. Millions of long term unemployed workers have simply given up looking. The workforce participation rate, at just under 63 percent has hovered near a 37-year-low for 11 months.

Federal tax receipts for 2014 hit an all-time high of more than $3 trillion dollars, yet the deficit was still $500 billion.

The sad reality, however, is those funds are not being used to create jobs, but to pay unemployment and other benefits to Americans who have lost their jobs and are suffering due to the disastrous economic policy.

Is the solution to reward our elected officials with our approval to do more of the same? If it is clear the federal government cannot make the economy better by growing larger and attempting an artificial “stimulus,” why on earth would we want it to continue on the same path? Do you foresee yourself better off in four years if the country’s economic policies stay on the same course?

As we are all aware, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. We cannot continue with these disastrous policies and expect things to magically improve.

If we are serious about fixing our economy, we must get back to basics. First, our tax code must be redefined and simplified. We must eliminate all loopholes and deductions and move to a Flat Tax, which will broaden our tax base.

Second, we must understand the true strength of our economy lies within small businesses, and reduce the regulatory and tax burden on these job creators in order to set the conditions for their success. We must lower corporate business tax rates to 20-22 percent to keep our rates competitive with those in other countries and stop driving our businesses overseas.

Third, we need to challenge the status quo in Washington, D.C. and stop the floodgates of the federal government spending. We should target spending cuts for every sector of the federal government, but prioritize outlays. Simply saying we will cut spending 10 or 20 percent across the board makes no sense when there are widespread duplicative programs – in those cases, spending could be cut 100 percent.

Finally, we must stop acting as though redistributing wealth will solve our economic problems. The top 1 percent of wage-earners currently generates 30 percent of all tax revenue. An astonishing 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. The key is not to increase taxes, but increase taxpayers. If we continue to increase the tax burden on our top wage-earners, they will eventually either stop earning, or find ways to shelter their income overseas. We must stop punishing those who succeed, for it is their success that makes this nation great.

In 239 short years, the United States of America has become “the shining city that sits upon a hill” because our free market system rewards innovation, creativity, hard work and financial responsibility. Those are the values we must cherish, and pass on to our own children and grandchildren.

And those are the conservative values my parents instilled in me.

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