04.30.2010 0

Big Government Schemes Get Free Pass in Report on Greek Tax Cheats

  • On: 05/07/2010 11:14:50
  • In: Economy
  • By Kevin Mooney

    Greece has passed its audition for a bailout from other European Union states after running up its debt. The New York Times would have readers believe that tax cheats are the central problem here. But extravagant government benefits and entrenched union interests drive spending programs beyond the point where they are sustainable, nevermind how much tax revenue is collected. This point goes missing in the coverage…

    Greece is a socialist state bedeviled by unsustainable pensions, mounting debt and a lethargic population. In many respects, it serves as a metaphor for where the U.S. may be heading in light of how powerful public employee unions have become. This front page piece in The New York is instructive because it fixes the blame on insufficient tax revenue as opposed to government spending; there’s an agenda here.

    The Tea Party movement suggests that America may yet find her way again, which is why big government failures must be explained away in the liberal news media where there are most prevalent. Throughout the European Union, wages and taxes are high, regulations burdensome and the unions firmly entrenched. Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has warned against “The Europeanization of the American economy” in the form interventionist government policies that converge with disconcerting economic trends.

    The U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, has released some unsettling numbers that point to severe public policy challenges: 52 percent of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments, a sharp increase from the 49 percent in 2008.A majority of American union members are now employed by the government; three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry. This means union workers have a vested interest in higher taxes and government expansion.

    Although EU member states are required to keep their deficit constrained at 3 percent of GDP, Greece has already hit over 12 percent and will need to issue almost $80 million in government bonds to finance the debt, according to government figures. U.S. taxpayers who rightly balk at the bailout measures that have been floated since the end of 2008 ought to examine the rescue package that have been floated in the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to sell the public (with a little help from a compliant NYT) on a $30 billion bailout for Greece.

    Meanwhile, The Times is trying to sell the American people on the perfidy of taxpayers. This most recent article goes into great detail about Greek citizens who decline to acknowledge that own pools on their tax forms. It is a clever, cheeky piece that deliberately sidesteps the public policy failures responsible for the country’s collapsing economy. Only 324 residents admitted to having pools in the northern suburb area in question when satellite photos show there was almost 17,000 pools.

    “Such evasion has played a significant role in Greece’s debt crisis, and as the country struggles to get its financial house in order, it is going after tax cheats as never before,” The Times argues.

    Various studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, have estimated that the government may be losing as much as $30 billion a year to tax evasion — a figure that would have gone a long way to solving its debt problems.”

    But there is a big missing piece of the equation here. Even if the efforts are successful, the additional tax dollars will only be used to subsidize the very spending habits that have pushed Greece to brink.

    The article concludes with a dig against the most industrious elements of society without any mention of the bloated welfare state that could cost neighboring countries in the EU a pretty penny.

    “Some of the most aggressive tax evaders, experts say, are the self-employed, a huge pool of people in this country of small businesses,” according to The Times. “It includes not just taxi drivers, restaurant owners and electricians, but engineers, architects, lawyers and doctors.”

    Kevin Mooney is the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com.


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