Cutting government theft for only pennies a day
Pennies a day
Would you be more concerned about a thief who steals pennies from
you or one who steals thousands of dollars from you? If you're like
a lot of Americans, you'd be more concerned about the one who steals
Many Americans are angry about Tom DeLay and other members of
Congress using the power of their office to obtain free trips and
other payoffs from corporations, the cost of which is passed to
consumers in higher prices for goods and services, amounting to
pennies for each American. At the same time, the same Americans
remain in a permanent apathetic state about Congress stealing
thousands of dollars from them.
I have calculated that 62 percent of the $2.5 trillion federal
budget is theft. That's 31 times more theft than in 1900, when only
two percent of the federal budget was theft. Today's theft comes to
a whopping $1.5 trillion, or $5,535 for every American and $15,000
for every household.
By "theft," I mean money that is taken from some people and
redistributed to other people and special interests in the form of
subsidies, grants, tax breaks, welfare and entitlements. Such theft
is the opposite of spending on the common good - that is, on such
government services as national defense and public safety that
benefit all citizens equally.
The theft of $1.5 trillion amounts to $2.8 billion apiece for each
of the 535 members of Congress, which should be renamed the Big
House, a place where thieves go to learn new tricks of the trade
from other thieves. It would be cheaper to give each of the Big
House inmates a $2,000 daily expense account for travel to exotic
locales, including rooms at swank hotels, first-class airfare, and
the rental of limousines. After all, the more time that they spend
on a beach in Tahiti on a "fact-finding mission," the less time they
will spend in Washington engaging in grand larceny.
Daily travel expenditures of $2,000 would amount to an annual
expense for all 535 inmates of $390 million, or $1.35 for each
American. That's $5,533.65 less per American than what the felons
currently steal. What a bargain!
Just think, there would be no need for campaign finance laws,
because, as thievery shrinks, government would shrink; and as
government shrinks, political power would shrink; and as political
power shrinks, the number of lobbyists would shrink; and as the
number of lobbyists shrinks, corporations would go back to producing
goods and services instead of kowtowing to their political
With the thieves in Tahiti, all of a sudden the country would no
longer hear AARP bark about taking more money from our kids and
grandkids for greedy geezers. And Ethanol producers and thousands
of other corporate special interests would no longer descend on
Washington like a plague of locusts descending on an Iowa
cornfield. The country would be tranquil, prosperous and moral.
The deficit would disappear, and our children would not be facing a
lifetime of indentured servitude.
Of course it's all a pipe dream. Being in a permanent apathetic
state, Americans are more concerned about pennies being stolen from
them than about thousands of dollars being stolen from them. And
that's why the country is doomed.
By Craig J. Cantoni
May 4, 2005
Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against
Legal Theft (HAALT.org). He can be reached at