Paying income taxes is not a favorite activity for most Americans. Thus, “vote for me and I’ll increase your taxes” is rarely heard from candidates running for president of the United States.

As today’s Democrats compete for their party’s presidential nomination, however, taxes are a prominent part of their efforts to attract attention. Most often the message is “vote for me and I’ll increase taxes on the rich.” In addition, an extraordinary amount of “free” stuff is being promised. We say “free” because voters are led to believe the aforementioned rich will pay for all kinds of new government benefits.

Medicare for everyone, free college education, subsidized child care, guaranteed incomes — you name the benefit and it is being touted as not only necessary and attainable, but sometimes a “human right” (to quote Sen. Bernie Sanders).

Considering the various proposals, we have two concerns. One is philosophical, and the other is practical.

First, the philosophical. All of these ideas require a huge expansion of government’s role in our lives. This means new bureaucracies, new regulations and new delivery systems. Which leads to many questions, including: How big do we want the federal government to be?

These aren’t small questions, and the government’s record in these matters isn’t without cause for concern. Medical providers, farmers, business people, educators and all kinds of other people complain about coping with thousands of constantly changing federal rules and requirements.

Second, the practical. Claims that rich people will pay for everything run into an inconvenient truth: There aren’t enough rich people to pay anywhere near what would be required, so huge tax increases on the middle class would be necessary. Politicians surely know this, but so far they’ve addressed it by offering vacuous platitudes or illogical tax proposals. The average taxpayer deserves straightforward information on likely tax increases.

This isn’t to imply that federal programs aren’t desirable, and even essential. But the economic system of the United States has provided unparalleled levels of opportunity, prosperity, convenience and comfort for millions of people.

Grand Island Independent