Everyone’s money, other people’s misery

Published: 1/14/2022 6:41:54 AM
Modified: 1/14/2022 6:41:01 AM

What do conservatives have in common with Margaret Thatcher and Elon Musk? They all decry liberals (or “Socialists” or “Communists”) spending “other people’s money” on social programs. You can find that phrase in the comments to any online story about a social program, from unemployment benefits to Medicare for All.

“Other people’s money” means tax money. It implies that people who support social programs aren’t contributing to their funding. That’s an effective propaganda tool to stir up opposition, but it isn’t true. Taxes come from and belong to all the people; they aren’t “other people’s money.”

I have paid taxes for 55 years, since I was 17. They always helped fund social programs that I advocated.

Even the poorest people pay taxes in several forms, especially sales tax. Those taxes also fund social programs. Social programs are funded by “everyone’s money.”

It’s a very different story when you look at the misery that social programs intend to alleviate. The people who complain about social support programs aren’t going to be affected by the cuts. They won’t suddenly find themselves unable to pay rent, visit a doctor, go without a community service that allows them to live independently, or feed themselves and their family. They are, in a very real sense, voting for “other people’s misery.”

So who is really being cavalier about what they do to “other people?” Like so many other conservative mantras, “other people’s money” is simply a propaganda slogan.

Lee Russ

Bennington, Vermont


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