Paying Taxes in the U.S.
A Mandatory, Multi-Charitable Contribution
by The Liberator [updated: March 27th, 2000]
That joyous time of year has arrived again. Just after the holiday bills got paid, another huge debt looms overhead. It is time to pay our taxes.
Uncle Sam wants Your $$$
Roughly one-fourth to one-third of earned income will be taxed. That is one large, harsh pound of flesh. The seemingly selfish question that nearly everyone thinks about is "What do I get out of paying taxes?" Before it gets answered, we need to get a feel for the magnitude of our tax responsibilities.
During a 40-hour week, at least ten hours of that time is spent working off income tax, or two hours per eight hour day. As if that were not enough, there are many other forms of tax. Sales tax, real estate tax, capitol gains tax and gift tax exist. Applied together, we stare into the mouth of the beast and gain a view of its many jagged teeth -- compounded tax -- because a tax is placed on every transaction.
For instance, if Johnny Plumber earns $42,000 gross in a year working on broken pipes, no less than $10,500 of that amount will go to Washington, lowering his net to $31,500. Every time he purchases food for his family, the groceries are taxed. He has to pay an annual tax on his old home and is taxed again if he ever decides to sell it. The point is, Johnny Plumber is able to use a surprisingly reduced portion of his earned income to the chagrin of Johnny and every over fictitious member of his family. So much less than his $31,500 is actually useful.
Here is the inventive cliché designed to comfort taxpayers: "Taxes are necessary to have things done we cannot do directly for ourselves." Who could argue money needs to be accumulated and spent on police and fire departments across America? Who doesn't think a well-trained military is not absolutely necessary? Who would dare suggest kids do not need money set aside for their education in the form of public schools?
Doing so would be completely absurd. Money needs to be spent nationally and locally on the environment, social security, court systems, health inspection, roads/transportation and libraries. There is also foreign aid, welfare and helping those who have disabilities. Don't forget about the cost of running our government, creating buildings filled with salary earners who require utilities like water, electricity, sewerage, and gas. The list is a long one but vital to the function of our modern society, but to what degree?
Of the amount spent on governmental causes mentioned above, how much of each earmarked sum actually gets spent on the heart of its intended mission? The waste must be low enough to predict with confidence that programs are directly benefiting from their goals. The fat of the beast must be trimmed well enough to eliminate ghost payrollees, irresponsible spending practices and unnecessary government functions.
Current spending practices run contrary to economic logic and consequently the necessity for lean budgets has been abandoned. Anyone who has ever worked under federal or state programs knows that entire budgets must be exhausted to retain the same amounts for the following year. Congress, the center of American government, refuses to pass a balanced budget agreement and consistently overspends its limits every year.
As a result of these poor management practices, money is being given away in extreme excess to those who do not need it. Top-heavy administrations, unjust amounts of foreign aid and padded educational funds place undo hardship on taxpayers. Welfare as a way-of-life, over-constructed/under-designed roads and a mismanagement of the social security system strain taxpayers by biting into their earnings even further.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
This whole practice is conducted under the guise of civic responsibility. In reality, those who study the flow of money, work within fraudulent bureaucracies or see relevant reports know better. It suggests to those who are wise enough to question the status quo to be extra-frugal with post-taxed monies.
Knowing that a disproportional number of tax dollars is not being spent properly makes the act of voluntary contribution extremely hard, if not impossible. Public television1 and the Salvation Army2 suffer. Research on cancer3, aids4, and other high-profile health endeavors would receive more contributions under a less severe tax structure and modern medicine would benefit. Even roadside volunteers who collect change for worthy causes could stand a chance of generating more money. These causes that depend on voluntary contributions will continue to suffer under an intense tax structure.
Since people cannot afford to willingly spend a portion of their post-taxed monies on human progress nor donate a portion of their free-time as volunteers, our government seems to think that it can decide how to be charitable for us. Welfare reform has not put a stop to the cycle of dependence on welfare. Soup kitchens that feed the homeless, once handled and funded by religious organizations and contributions, are now subsidized by Uncle Sam. Most people are not aware that a portion of our U.S. budget goes toward many agencies possibly better financed by strictly volunteer money.
High taxes hurt volunteerism, both of the effort and economic varieties. The money crunch made by high taxes precludes many citizens from donating their time. Heads of households have to work full-time to pay bills. The American days of old with one parent able to devote time to worthwhile organizations has long since been chewed out of existence. Despite those two-income-earning families, bills are still huge enough to end the good old days of generous financial contributions as well.
Nevertheless, the idea of community service is deeply apart of the American tradition of past and present. It was not something that people used to do previous to the 80's. There is a resurgence of volunteer type programs being administered within school systems as a result of public desire. American citizens want to instill the value of helping ones neighbor to tomorrow's future. However, if Americans are too busy working to make ends meet, they will never get a chance to show their own desire to contribute to the human race. Government will continue to mistakenly conclude our survival mode as apathy and the Helping Humanity Through a High Taxation Model will also persist.
Yet the thought of having politicians in Washington deciding on the charities we will all manditorilly contribute to should elicit clenched fists everywhere. Eventually it will when people realize the great American tax hoax has been perpetrated on them for years. These people will rightfully become outraged and demand action.
A demonstration in anger against an unjust tax policy has already happened. There was the Boston Tea Party5 early in American history when our country operated under British rule. Organizers took drastic measures when shippers were detained until a heightened tax on tea was paid. The event was one of many crucial points in American history and should serve as a reminder to our legislators and representatives today.
16 Dec 1773 : Boston Tea Party
It is certainly more tasteful to fight an enemy resting an oceans distance away than it is to expose the enemies within, but the continued irresponsible spending practices made by our representatives in office has been causing unhealthy wounds for years. Forcing family members into the workforce to make up the losses from their diminished incomes has not afforded families the ability to police themselves by properly raising families, physically assisting other members of the community, making charitable contributions, and generally looking out for one another.
Many of us fail to see chunks of our earnings go into the belly of the beast. Paychecks get automatically deducted, making special payments unnecessary for many people. In fact, some taxpayers get money back at the end of the year due to overpayment. Those checks are not gifts. They were earned throughout the year. The psychology of tax collection has played an important part of maintaining our unrelenting, pet tax beast.
The question American people should be asking is, "Why am I paying so much?" It is clear that a government must exist and requires funds to do so but definitely not to the extent it does today. Government responsibilities must be lessened and new, more appropriate spending programs need to be adopted. Our national debt has also somehow escaped attention for too long now and is begging to be addressed.
If necessary, we must take our concerns to the polls and vote accordingly to make our nation stronger and regain American vitality. Washington shows no sign of acting on the budget crisis and will remain doing so until taxpayers decide to make an issue of it and more people demonstrate their angst. Placing partisan politics aside must be done on this issue as everyone will gain from a lean government and budget. It has gone beyond the realm of need, becoming imperative.
The effects of a large government need to be examined. A segment of our society has become dependant on government handouts. When we should be teaching each other about personal responsibilities, the government operates in contradiction, making citizens weaker instead of stronger. It is time to force government to help us not hurt us.
Representatives need to recognize these problems. They will only begin doing so when they realize their careers depend upon it. Only until we pull on their choke-chains will the caretakers muzzle the spending beast. Maybe then we will be less upset making our yearly contributions in care of Uncle Sam.
1 Learn more about Public Television (PBS) by visiting http://www.pbs.org/.
2 The Salvation Army can be found online at http://www.salvationarmy.org/.
3 The American Cancer Society has a website at http://www.cancer.org/.
4 Further study on Acquired Immune Dificiency Syndrome (AIDS) can be done at http://dir.yahoo.com/Health/Diseases_and_Conditions/AIDS_HIV/.
5 Information on The Boston Tea Party, as well as other events in American history, can be found at http://www.historyplace.com/.
In addition to the links above, visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at http://www.irs.gov/.
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