Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

What is it about politicians and rich person that makes them think they don’t have to pay taxes? Not only do they not have to pay taxes but they also do not expect that to be an impediment to continuing to work in the government. In many of their minds all it takes is a sincere public apology and a plausible deniability of culpability and its back to business as usual. While many will argue that the tax problems of some of President Obama’s appointee’s are mild compared to some other President’s recent picks, but is that really the issue? President Obama campaigned on bringing change to Washington that requires actually changing things for that to be a reality.

While I agree with many that Mr. Daschle was a unique pick to head HHS and brings a lot of intangibles that would have helped to get Universal healthcare passed against many intransigent elements but at what cost? Do we believe that he was the only person who could understand and have the experience to get it done? I don’t think so. I believe that there are others who may not be tainted by Washington who can be just as effective. The key for this administration going forward is that it’s not enough to talk change. There are many who have already begun to question how change is possible with so many Washington insiders in the administration. I understand that given the depth of the crisis’ we face as a nation and with the President promising swift action it was important to have as many experienced people as possible to get off to a quick start but the President cannot overestimate his hand. There are forces in Washington and not just Republicans that are not in a hurry to see the Washington system dismantled.

It appears to me based on interviews and the continual reports of Wall Street bonuses despite their horrific performance that what is happening today is so ingrained and systemic that many of these people do not even believe they have done anything wrong. It is amazing to me how often we here the elite class speaking of the lack of responsibility of the poor and their “sense of entitlement” and yet what is rarely reported until recently is the “sense of privilege” by the wealthy. What bothers me the most is the lack of outrage by the American public when the wealthy class and their apologists say publically that they are entitled to these outlandish perks as incentive for doing their jobs. You are telling me that a person who is already earning millions of dollars in salaries and benefits needs more millions of dollars to do their job. And that if they don’t get it they will quit and there will be some sort of brain drain in corporate America? My feeling is with the great job that they have done in tanking our economy so what if they leave whoever replaces them certainly can’t do any worse.

The problem in America is that there is such a negative connotation connected to paying taxes that very few people are angry with those who have found a way to pay little if any taxes. It seems that many believe that when they are able they too will find away to skirt their obligations. Many people who are not wealthy risk penalties, fines, and jail in an effort to not pay their fair share. It reminds me of “so-called” Christians who refuse to provide charity which is a duty of all Christians and yet pretend to be pious. We need to reform our tax codes and create a flat tax rate for everyone regardless of income or position. We remove all deductions and exemptions and everyone pays a flat percentage of income. While no one including me wants to pay taxes in a communal society it is a necessity. Instead of seeing paying taxes as a burden it should be treated as one’s patriotic duty to maintain our society and way of life.

Why do we pay taxes? We pay taxes so that our governments can provide services that we cannot provide for ourselves. The problem is that we all have things that we don’t think the government should be using our tax dollars for and I understand that. However that does not preclude us from having to pay taxes. There is a cost to be a part of a society and unfortunately taxes is a part of that cost. We cannot have the bulk of those taxes being paid by the hardest working people who don’t have tax attorneys and CPAs to hide income and create phony tax shelters. Why is it that those with the most want to pay the least? There are too many wealthy people who believe that paying taxes is optional or only for the little guy. The middle-class in America has been sold this mistaken idea that whatever is good for the wealthy is good for them. We ignore their excesses and greed. We accept their contempt for our society and their utter lack of empathy for anyone but themselves.

The time has come for all of us to step up and pay our fair share. We must no longer accept that there are those above the law and above paying taxes. We must make our tax laws fairer, simpler, and more enforceable. We must enforce our corporate taxes and not as the Republicans suggest reduce them. If we were able to collect just half of what is owed the government by corporations and the wealthy our national debt would be reduced considerably. We must make those who intentionally avoid paying their taxes pay a heavy toll, because they are after all stealing from all of us.

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