If there is one thing Americans truly hate more than anything else, it is taxes. Virtually everyone wants to have their taxes cut. Democrats love to cut taxes. Republicans love to cut taxes. People love to see fractionally larger pieces of money in their paychecks at the end of the month.
If there is one thing that Americans love almost as much as getting their taxes cut, it is getting things from the government. Roads, police, schools, defense, border and homeland security, electrical utilities, and traffic signals are all a part of the American way of life.
Unfortunately, Americans are caught in a zero sum game. If you cut taxes, you have less money to spend on the things you like. If you want more of the things you like you have to pay for them somehow.
Americans everywhere bemoan the overwhelming burden placed on their shoulders when the feds come after their hard-earned paychecks. They have somehow managed to completely ignore the fact that Europeans pay far more in taxes than Americans have at any point in the last 30 years. Facts can be unfortunate things.
On Sunday July 25 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was interviewed for ABC’s “This Week”.
According to Reuters, during his short segment, Geithner said that as the financial economy turned back toward a positive trajectory it was becoming clear that the time for the Bush tax cuts had come and gone. In his own words, “We think that’s the responsible thing to do because we need to make sure we can show the world that (we’re) willing as a country now to start to make some progress bringing down our long-term deficits”.
For those in the United States who are honestly “fiscally conservative” this talk of ending the tax cuts should be like music to their ears.
However, in a culture where everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too, this sentiment has created controversy. CNNMoney.com ran the preposterous headline “Tax hikes for the rich: Can the economy afford them?”. The article itself is modestly balanced, but the title choice leaves little room for doubt; the news agency that covers the day-to-day dealings of the richest Americans seems to be on the side of the richest Americans.
The idea that we, the normal hard workers of main stream America, are somehow beholden unto the rich is foolish. The idea that the rich are somehow encumbered by the taxes of our society is just as foolish.
America’s wealthiest earners are wealthy because they happened to have the chips fall the right way for them. Warren Buffett is not the only genius investor in the world; he just so happened to be at Berkshire Hathaway at the perfect time and in the perfect place. The same goes for Bill Gates. Even our great multi-millionaire athletes are just a common injury away from becoming nothing more than spectators like the rest of us.
Hard work and determination are important if you want to be successful in this world, but there is no denying the factor played by luck. Jaime Dimon, President and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is a diligent professional. He also happened to be born into a family of investors with enough wealth to put him through the best universities in the world. He had to do the work, but he also got a major leg up on his competitors.
If you make tons of money, you can afford to help out a family that is stuck in a terrible urban school district where four generations of decay has left them with virtually no outlet.
I made it out of the ghetto – thanks to my mom and dad. How many other kids didn’t have the chance? How many black Momma Harringtons couldn’t get that home loan to move up a few school districts? How many didn’t understand that burdening themselves with debt would help their children succeed in the future? How many black Old Man Harringtons were in jail? Not to get too far off-track, but if you don’t see the racial biases in our society then you probably don’t see a whole lot.
You can rest assured that if there is something in your life that you take for granted it is probably paid for by tax money. If you want me to keep your taxes low you have to give me something in return.
I’ll give you back that pesky income tax if you end the wars and pink slip all the troops. Yup, take 200,000 American soldiers and throw them out into the unemployment pool. I hope those “skills” they gained as military grunts translate to that futuristic economy you had hoped for. Don’t get mad, remember, you wanted your taxes lowered.
How about you keep your Bush tax cuts and I’ll stop having road crews fix potholes. Enjoy your drive to work. It’s okay though, you make a ton of money so you can buy a Land Rover to deal with the suddenly unpredictable terrain that used to be 5th Avenue.
Enjoy your tax cuts rich America, now I’ll take those police whose mere existence acts as a deterrent to criminals. You can use the money you saved on taxes to hire a private defense firm (i.e. mercenaries) to keep your stuff safe. Also, if you do get robbed – and you’re rich, so your junk is actually worth stealing – there isn’t anything you can do about it because I had to pink slip all the public prosecutors and the courthouses are only open on odd-numbered weekdays.
You can have your tax cuts… I just hope you enjoy your feudalism too.