Today is "tax day" because taxes are due today--the filing of your taxes, and, the paying of your taxes--at least, any taxes you haven't already paid. Taxes and death--the two constants in life. What a terrible association. Taxes are necessary to keep roads repaired, maintain schools and education, deal with waste, and a myriad of truly important things that do make life better and easier for everyone. But what gets me is that "everyone" isn't paying taxes....
In a recent CNN report, 48% of Americans DO NOT pay their taxes...not necessarily because they don't want to, but because they simple don't earn enough to do so. If you're as astounded by that stat as I am, you may also feel the same sense of alarm and dread. True, there are the Pamela Anderson's of this world, who owe close to $500,000 to the State of California--but the majority of "average" Americans are just squeaking by and don't earn enough to be taxed or are retired seniors, or face daunting social disadvantage. Our unemployment is the highest it's EVER been--close to 12% of the country or half-of-a million people are on unemployment.
Dear readers, I'm afraid that what we are witnessing today is not just another tax day, but history itself...the beginning of the "fall."
No one likes giving away their money for taxes--it's easy when it's automatically taken out of your paycheck by your employer--but even then, you may still "owe." Even a college student with a part-time job, making approximately $6,000 a year, has to pay taxes. So why the HUGE discrepancy? Is 48% of our country truly unable to pay taxes??? The question begging to be asked is WHY.
But if you're a regular reader, you know WHY is never the right question. And the reason WHY is never the right question is because we already know the answer. At least, we should.
When you promise trillion-dollar stimulus packages and monies to bankrupt countries and continue to plan even further trillion-dollar sprees on things like socialized medicine or to use the common rhetoric, "healthcare reform," you are sinking this country with trillions upon trillions of stones. There's no mystery. We know what's happening. We know why. And this isn't new to 2009 or 2010--this stretches way back into the twentieth century. As the burden of increased taxes continues, people will begin to prioritize differently. Spending money on education will be less meaningful; saving for retirement will also be less meaningful. Having that "nest-egg" we all dream of will be meaningless as well. Right now, most of us give about 20-25% of our income to the government. And we appreciate the government services that come with that. But will you still feel the same way when you give 30-35% of your income to taxes? 40-45%? And how does the American imagination not recognize that possibility when we look at the trillions of dollars we're spending--dollars we don't even have, dollars that put future generations into debt?
To make it more relatable--think of it this way: You make $50,000 a year (lucky you!). Of that $50,000, $14,000 goes to taxes and benefits like Social Security; Now you're down to $36,000 a year and you lose $10,000 of that on rent. $6,000 more disappears for your car. Now we're at $20,000. You lose about $8,000 a year on gas and groceries: $12,000 left. You pay your utilities, your car insurance, and things like your cell phone and cable: Take away another $6,000-$8,000 leaving you with $6,000 a year at most. NOW, you have student loans--about $60,000 worth: $500/month--say goodbye to your remaining $6,000! Now we're at $0 but we haven't factored in things like children, clothing, and any other "emergency" expenses that come up by living life. That's where debt comes in. As a country, we have the same problem but on a much grander scale--but the basic economics of the situation still apply. If you have no money left after paying all your expenses, would you then plan to spend another $50,000 on say, an addition to your home, or to take a month-long trip around the world? Probably not. Would you promise to donate $25,000 to a friend in need? Would you give away another $25,000 for ANY reason? No, you couldn't. And if you did, you'd be bankrupt fairly quickly.
Reimagine the same scenario, but now, all the recent legislation has passed--it's 2015. Taxes have gone up to 30-35% of your income--you now lose $5,000 more dollars to taxes when you were already struggling to make ends meet. And what I'm describing isn't a partisan party-line--it's my life. And if you're one of the 52% of the country who does pay taxes, chances are--it's you, too. To run a typical home with a mortgage payment of around $1,000 a month, the average American family needs to have an income of at least $50,000 to make ends meet. Maybe you're one of those lucky people whose parents funded your education, or who received a full-ride and had parental support enough to avoid ed loans--if you are, good for you! You have $6,000 more a year than the average college graduate with $60,000 in student loans. Maybe you were even lucky enough to inherit a car or two from family. Another $6,000 reclaimed! You definitely wouldn't feel the same PINCH as the rest of us. Which speaks loudly to parents everywhere that helping your child obtain an education and starting their adult life with gifts like cars is not only a generous thing to do, it's the rtight thing to do...if, that is, you yourself can afford to do it.
We live in scary times--scarier still when considering the rather violent climate we live in. Sure, it's thinly veiled by things like the UN--but there's a lot of global hostility out there. No wonder why we all gravitate toward powerful heroes in our escapist entertainment like vampires and superheroes. When fantasy makes more sense than reality, there's a problem, a BIG problem.
Economists predict that our money troubles will continue into 2011--the pillars of which are employment and housing. With unemployment up and continuing to rise, and our housing market unstable because of it--our dollar is sinking like those trillions of stones. Gold will keep increasing. And stocks like the Las Vegas Sands will keep going up, too--at least temporarily, because as a country, people are looking for escape any way they can get it. That is, until the money runs out.
And I'm only offering a window on reality--I , unfortunately, have no solutions to these problems. Frankly, I'm not sure there's anyone who does. Ray Kurzweil, a transhumanist and author, believes that we're mere decades away from global government. I bet that , if global government ever happens, it starts with a global monetary unit. How else will the problems faced world-over really be solved??? We're either going to go "Star Trek" and get rid of money altogether (though we humans are greedy bastards, so it's hard to imagine that reality), or we unite as a global economy with a global dollar...the outcome of which is rocky at best.
Whatever happens, we're ALL in it together. Life-boat ethics are irrelevant. Seek those connections! Because they exist whether you want them to or not. The better connected you are in the future, the better you'll survive the next tax day, and the next, and the next, and the next.
We stand on the precipice of a BRAVE NEW WORLD..."When the individual feels, the community reels." --A. L. D.
Until next time, dear readers....