Taxes should not be a political issue. The fact that they are has always confused me. To understand why this doesn’t make a lot of sense, let’s look at what taxes are supposed to be for:
The idea of tax was created long ago in Empires gone by. Taxes were important in order to build infrastructure. In Rome, they spent a fortune on roads to connect the continent. This allowed for new trade, and for connection with new cultures.
In the US, taxes were intended to be used to build and maintain a system of highways and a railroad to connect the country. They were also meant to be put into programs like Social Security, which is a sort of savings program for each citizen that allows them to set some of their income aside each paycheck so that they will have money to live off of once they retire.
Later, we decided that we should educate our citizens. That was a great move, and so the public school system was born. One hundred years ago, we started the National Park Service, and that was also a great move because it allowed us to preserve land for future generations.
There was a time when Americans were proud of their country and what it was accomplishing, and proud to pay their part to help.
But then politicians started misusing our tax dollars.
They borrowed money from Social Security (remember that is our money, paid by us in order to have a safety net when we retire.)
They started funding ridiculous things because lobbyists paid them to. Think corn subsidies, for example. We as tax payers fund the farming of corn in the US, and this is literally poisoning us. Corn syrup is in everything in the US, and it is incredibly bad for you. It causes obesity and is addictive. Other places use real sugar, but not the US. We have to do something with all that corn after the government pays to have it grown. And so we make poison with it.
Then there are oil subsidies. In addition to oil companies not paying taxes, they are also able to get huge gifts of federal money in order to artificially lower the price of gasoline. This keeps us dependent on a resource that is damaging the environment, and which is running out. It stops us from exploring alternative energy, and it retards our growth as a society.
Now, the weapons manufacturers are getting involved in lobbying too. This means we are suddenly “fighting terror” and bombing countries like crazy, in spite of the fact that they have never done us harm, and have no power to. Just under President Obama we have spent trillions of dollars to bomb Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria. These countries are no threat to us and cannot hurt us, but by claiming that they “have terrorists” and that we are “fighting terror,” the government has allowed the weapons manufacturer’s to make a fortune. And who do they give stocks in their companies to? The politicians who approve the bombings, of course. Meanwhile our tax dollars are paying for the weapons companies and the politicians who own stock in them to get rich.
Obviously we need more control over what we allow our government to spend money on. We need our taxes to go back to funding Social Security, Schools, and the building of infrastructure. That’s how successful societies stay successful.
That’s problem one: Getting control of government spending. They need to fund programs that help tax payers. We have a right to demand healthcare, retirement, good schools, good roads, and firefighters to come save us if our home is burning. Taxes are supposed to be for these things; programs that help us. They are not supposed to go to anything else.
However, there is another problem with taxes.
Lets’ talk about who pays the bulk of US taxes. It should be the people making the most money, right? It should be the people who benefit the most from use of our roads and our labor and our government’s help (as in folks who own businesses.)
And yet, that isn’t the case.
The people who pay the most in taxes are actually the people who are doing the production; the people who have jobs, and who work every day to feed their families.
That’s really unfair.
Meanwhile the people who produce nothing at all (the “management class” who live off investments and don’t work) pay no taxes in addition to not contributing to society.
Please have a look at the graph below, which tracks the working class tax rate in yellow, and the corporate tax rate in blue.
You’ll see that before, when the big corporations and the rich were paying their fair share, that was during our “boom” time.
Nowadays, corporations perpetuate the myth that taxing business makes it impossible for business to succeed. Yet in countries with high business taxes like South Korea, their companies (LG, Samsung, Hundai) are very successful. So, we know this myth is untrue.
The truth is, when businesses dodge taxes, it is only so that they can give more profit to their investors.
Remember: Investors are people who put money into the company with the expectation of returns on their investment. This used to be in the form of average people buying a small amount of stock to help them grow their money. However, these days average people don’t have any money put aside. Average people do not have the money to buy stocks.
The people who are “investing” are trust fund babies like Donald Trump and Paris Hilton. They were handed money, and all they do is “manage” it, while never actually working a day in their lives.
You, (the majority of people) are the ones who produce. You go to work, and you make things or build companies up. You are the ones who are actually producing things. If they entire rich class died off tomorrow no production would be lost. However, if the production class died off, all would be lost.
(A joke rich people like to tell: “Father would probably die looking for the kitchen if the staff quit.)
We are funneling money to these useless people so that they can buy islands and yachts, and we are leaving nothing for the folks who produce actual things.
Also, don’t pretend we need their management skills. Employee-owned and managed companies like Winco do just fine. Every one of you is capable of managing the means of production. In fact, you are probably better at it because you understand how it works. Have you ever worked for a corporation that always seemed to be making bad decisions? That’s because the people making those decisions don’t work, and don’t know how their own businesses function as well as you know.
So those are two enormous problems with taxes. And, we really desperately need to address them.
However, when something is broken it’s not a good idea to just throw it away or destroy it. We still need taxes. Remember, they pay for us to have roads and bridges and schools. They are important.
So it’s not a matter of eliminating taxes because you don’t like how they are spent. It’s about correcting the problems that we have within the system.
We need to:
1. Spend taxes on our own people.
2. Require everyone to pay their fair share.
If we can do that, we can all work together and we can build a successful society. That is supposed to be the goal of all of us, and it is right that it should be. We are a cooperative species, and no one person can do everything any more.
What I mean is:
You probably can’t make shampoo. You probably don’t know how to machine the parts for a car, and to assemble them. You likely can’t design a building. All of us are able to do one part. We need each other. And so we need to work cooperatively to create a society.
Think of Libertarians. These are the folks who say they don’t need society and they can “do everything on their own.” And yet they drive on our roads, shop at our stores, and buy our products. They say that society is not important, while using the privileges of a society every day. And when they get sick? They sure don’t handle it themselves. They go to a doctor at a hospital built and funded by taxes!
So please, don’t buy into the Libertarian nonsense that we can do without taxes. We need taxes. But, we need to demand that the government spend them on us.
Note: When you see a highlighted word in the text, it is not an advertisement. It is a link to an article or website that explains the concept I am talking about in more detail, in case you want to do further research. Someone accused me of putting ads in my posts, and I want you to realize that I would never do that. I am simply trying to be transparent, and let you see where information I am using has come from or where you can learn more.