July 13, 2012

Words That Should Scare Every American

Henry Waxman, whose flaring nostrils already scare anyone with a lick of common sense (did I just use the words “lick” and “nostrils” in the same dependent clause? ICK!), has made a comment about Mitt Romney that ought to frighten every American who believes that they are entitled to economic privacy.

"Let's not go back to a time - to the years when people acted like they're entitled to keep everything secret, that they're entitled to run the government and the American people are not to be permitted to know what's going on because they know better than the rest of us," Waxman fired. "This is an elitism. It's a sense that they're better than anybody else - they're entitled to all of the money they have and the rest of us should just grin and bear it because they're the ones in charge," he continued.

Oddly enough, what Waxman is ranting about is the fact that Mitt Romney wants to keep confidential tax documents confidential. He believes he is entitled to the financial privacy that each and every American expects. What Mitt Romney – and all the rest of those mysterious “theys” who believe they are “entitled to keep everything secret” – believe is that the mere fact that they run for election to public office (or even win the elections) strips them of the same right to keep their personal financial information secret that every other American has.

Do I think Romney was right to release a single year’s tax returns? Yes, I do – though I would have had no problem with many of the specifics being redacted. Personally, I don’t think we are entitled to any of the financial information on a candidate’s tax forms. As it is, I think we ask for too much financial disclosure on the ethics forms that are required of public officials, and believe that such disclosure forms are one more thing that keep average Americans from running for office. I know I won’t run for office – not even my city council or school board – because I refuse to make available for public inspection information about the balance on my credit cards, my monthly car payment, and how much I still owe on my house. Frankly, it seems to me that we’ve gone far beyond the legitmate public purpose of preventing public corruption and instead gone into the realm of “gotcha politics”.

By the way – it is interesting to note that the same henry Waxman who demands confidential information from Romney on the basis that the American people have a right to know confidential personal information used the same interview to defend Barack Obama hiding Fast & Furious documents and other information about the public’s business from the American people – stating that President Obama has a right to keep that information from the American people but "Governor Romney does not have executive privilege to keep his tax information from the ability of the American people to learn how he's made so much money over the years." And that illustrates the problem – the reality is that in a properly ordered society it should be precisely the opposite.

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