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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

A Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

American taxpayers have a right to sue their congressmen to recover taxpayer money wasted by government abuse or neglect or by useless pork-barrel spending. Senator John McCain estimated “hundreds of billions of dollars of waste” in the current budget. (If we can sue doctors, why not legislators?) Such lawsuits may include the right to recover both compensatory and punitive damages to be paid by the congressman, not the government.



[Editor’s note: Hershel leads here with a reference to legislation that was considered by Congress in 2001. The primary issue, however, goes way beyond that, and should be “front and center” in every discussion of the “rights” of taxpayers.]

August 2001:

In 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the misnamed patients’ bill of rights legislation. Lacking anything better to do with their time (other than, well... you can imagine what), the Congress tried to convince you that your rights as a patient are being trampled upon, and that they must jump in and protect you. (We shudder at the thought of sending our young daughters to Washington to serve as interns, but our legislators believe we are eager to have that same predatory, immoral people protect our rights as patients.)

If this is not the height of hypocrisy, what is?

Like so much of what Congress focuses on, that notion is at odds with the evidence. Though one can find anecdotal evidence of anything, the statistical evidence shows that the vast majority of Americans are generally pleased with the health care that they receive and that they do not feel they are being deprived of their rights. Oh, they may believe that other patients’ rights are being abridged. But they feel that way because of what they are being told by the Congress and the press, not because of any substantial, factual evidence. Seventy percent of respondents to our poll at BBHQ believe we need a patients’ bill of rights; but 80% of our respondents are satisfied with their health care (and presumably feel they have no need to sue their doctor or HMO.) This is a perfect example of false and malicious manipulation of the public by the press and the Congress.


The patients’ bill of rights is actually a lawyers’ “kid in a candy store” bill because it allows lawyers to go to the well (the insurance companies – read: us) for an endless supply of money – our money!

And just who are the largest contributors to the Democratic party? You guessed it & lawyers. (And the press complained because George Bush appeared to be on the side of the energy producers. I’ll take energy producers over lawyers any day! But that’s another story.)

So naturally, my take on the need for a 21st century bill of rights flows in a different direction. I believe that there are real needs out there, and that our rights are indeed being trampled upon. But those doing the trampling are the very ones who claim to be and are paid to protect and defend our rights. Yes, I am serious; I believe we need a taxpayers’ bill of rights.

When we were growing up, the tax burden on our parents was about 15%. So what if a little money was misspent? Washington did so little, and what little it did mattered less. But today, the government (at all levels) takes about 40% of our income. The level of government spending has risen enormously, as has the government’s influence and control over our lives. And the fact that the level has risen so fast without the implementation of reasonable safeguards or controls invites abuse.

Oh wait... I forgot. Do you recall Al Gore’s big “re-inventing government” program during the Clinton administration? What government do you suppose was re-invented? Did you notice any significant change? Perhaps he was talking about another one of his inventions, the Internet. How did our government improve because of Al Gore’s re-inventing government program? But I digress.

This is my proposal for what really ails our society. This is my proposed taxpayers’ bill of rights:

The American taxpayers have a right to know how much of their money is simply lost by the federal government... unaccounted for... every year. (It’s in the billions, but we have a right to a specific, detailed accounting. After all, it is our money.)

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