I have been working Brussels most of this week after my short visit to Vienna (a very nice city that I look forward to visiting again in March) so I am reviewing several Brussels-related items below:
- Debate -- I attended the Hayek Series debate, http://www.hayekseries.com, focused on property rights which was hosted by the online journal, TCS Daily.com. Overall this was an interesting line up of speakers but for a good education on your own time please consider Hernando de Soto's book, "The Mystery of Capital".
- Restaurant -- My friend/former colleague/client/Director of IT for my blog, Heather, who is also the host of the hottest blog on the web :) http://www.baconunwrapped.com hosted a group of us for dinner at Aux Armes de Bruxelles -- http://www.armesdebruxelles.be . I had a very nice starter of sole with shrimp and my main was a beef-based stew cooked in beer complete with onions followed by crepes stuffed with apples and caramel for dessert. The wait staff was very good and I enjoyed the restaurant's decor but the food was merely "adequate" especially given their prices. This restaurant pales in comparison to "Elements at Sanctuary" in Phoenix (see "Desert Delights" posting on this blog) so I have to rate them with the respectable "3" ranking on my 5 point scale.
Now I try to avoid discussing politics at dinner :) but my dinner colleagues baited me into trashing the Soviet model which led to a wide ranging conversation regarding what is and is not good government. One item discussed was President Bush's telephone wire tap program in the War on Terror so I stated that while such government intrusion bothers me greatly this spying is NOTHING compared to the volumes of data that MILLIONS of Americans supply to the Internal Revenue Service every April 15th when we must file taxes or suffer the various penalties.
Then I posed the simple question -- "why should the government know exactly how much money I make and what I do with it?" which led into a conversation with my European friends at the table about what role should government play and whether or not I "support the concept of 'community' at all?" to which I replied , "yes, I do support community but choose/prefer to write personal checks to charities and causes I support versus just handing 30 to 50% of personal income
(once you add in Social Security/FICA taxes, Medicare taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, property tax, capital gains taxes, bank savings interest tax, corporate income taxes which of course make products and services more expensive for consumers, etc. dependent on your income tax bracket and ability of your tax preparer to protect you from more harm)
over to the government to let them decide what is best for society" Then I was asked by a British colleague, "so what about having your rubbish (garbage) picked up?" to which I replied, "a private company is contracted to pick up my garbage every Friday morning for which I pay a fee via my home owners' association."
I just had to pause after this verbal exchange about garbage to wonder -- "how many people like my Brit friend see government as the only or the default solution/provider for everything we need in this world?"
If you think the taxes you pay go to great and just functions to give us all a better sense of "community" then stop what you are doing and read about the work of Citizens Against Government Waste -- http://www.cagw.org -- then write a personal check to your local free market, limited government think tank or help start one if you don't have one in your area today via this trade association - http://www.spn.org
Live free or on government cheese,