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Hiding the sting of the income tax

October 4, 2007

On September 26th, I wrote about political capital from class envyI closed the post with the promise of a forthcoming missive on how the government makes your tax burden seem lighter, while consistently taking more and more of your income. It’s time to make good on that promise.

Have you ever asked a friend or co-worker either of the following questions?

  • What’s your monthly income?
  • What was the amount of income tax you paid last year?

Yes, I know… those are personal questions.

If you get a reply, most people will answer the first question with something like “my take-home pay was ‘x’.”

But the question was “what’s your monthly income,” not how much of it does the government allow you to keep. If wages can be thought of as the fruits of your labor, are you content in knowing that as you are picking the fruit, a portion of it is being stolen and given to strangers, before you even get it home?

As for the second question, I’ve heard people say “Nothing. I got a refund.”

Isn’t that like giving a loan to someone for a full year, in which time they can do as they please with your money, and then give back only a portion of it, and you think you’ve made a profit? This metaphor doesn’t address the taking of even more of your wealth in the form of Social Security and MEDICARE taxes. Those are topics for another time.

There’s a reason people think that net income is actual income and tax return checks are free money. The government has desensitized us to the seizure of a portion of our hard earned wages through payroll withholding. After awhile, people stop thinking about something they never see.

Payroll withholding is a method of ensuring that the government has a constant supply of money. It is also a method designed to lull you into a sense of well being while you’re being robbed of a portion of your wealth. Think of yourself in the role of a blood donor and the government as Dracula.

Even a constant supply of money is never enough for career politicians. They continuously find new ways to spend our hard earned money on wasteful government programs that are driving the nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

How many times have you heard politicians say things like “it’s for the children” or “this program addresses the problems of homelessness” or some such excuse to take money away from you, the American taxpayer? They may attempt to make the burden on your wallet feel a little lighter by manipulating your emotions, but remember, there really are no free rides, and everything comes with a price. And you and I, my fellow taxpayers, do the paying.

Who doesn’t care about children? Who doesn’t care that a number of our countrymen sleep outdoors every night? Who doesn’t care that there are people going to sleep at night hungry? I’m not talking about people half way around the world; I’m talking about people right here in our own communities.

Prior to President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” (known in some circles as the “Great Socialist Society”), charitable organizations provided relief services to the poor. Enter the “Great Society” and we have more poor than ever before. And people are less inclined to give to a charitable organization when their tax dollars are earmarked to address the same problem.

Here’s a question that may require some thought prior to rendering an answer. How many government programs have actually effectively addressed any of the problems we’ve been told our tax dollars would fix? If anybody can name one government program that actually performed as advertised, and did so in a cost effective manner, please enlighten me (and don’t try telling me about the Interstate highway system or public schools!).

Most charitable organizations have much less overhead than government programs. Yet instead of using a more efficient, cost effective solution that attempts to “teach a man to fish…” our elected officials prefer more government programs that create a dependant class of people. Political capital from class envy is at the heart of this problem.

The monetary time bomb is ticking. Will we, the people do something before it’s too late? Or will we sit by, comfortably numb, as more and more personal wealth is taken from us to pay for government programs of questionable purpose and performance? 

Until next time,
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