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The Tax Man Cometh

The Tax Man Cometh

Here I am, an old guy, whose social security check won’t cover the rent of his home—much less living expenses. Because I was self-employed most of my life and unwise in my financial planning, I have no retirement account.

Therefore, I keep working, most recently as a freelance writer. Come April, the federal and state governments will ask for approximately 23 percent of my earnings from the past year. Throw in all the other taxes (food, goods, gas, and so on), and we’re probably talking another 5 percent. Add various licenses and registrations—this year, I had to pay for operating a business in the county where I live—and total monies going to the government probably approach 30 percent of my income, which, by the way, is several decades short of six figures.

Meanwhile, the federal government goes throwing dollars in all directions, and the country is now trillions of dollars in debt. Neither political party makes mention of deep cuts in government services and costs to reduce expenditures. Instead, the bloated federal government just keeps getting fatter, adding employees to its administrative armies as if there were no tomorrow.

So, what are common citizens like me to do?

Do we cross our fingers and hope that our elected officials will finally vote to eliminate federal waste, cut the numbers of federal employees, and chop down the thick forests of regulations that throttle the ingenuity and growth of the private sector? Even writing those words brings a grim chuckle.

Do we blindly continue writing out checks every April as required by law? Given the government’s massive expenditures and staggering debt, that’s a losing proposition. As for me, I’d feel greater satisfaction running the dollar bills through a paper shredder and using it as packing for Christmas presents.

Some may propose we simply refuse to pay our taxes. Proponents of this solution would point out the foolishness of dumping money into an enterprise that seems determined to fail. Wise old Uncle Sam—once an American icon—is long gone and replaced by a rapacious nephew who annually sticks out a hand and demands wads of cash, promising much in return but delivering little. The situation is so bad that a dictionary definition of waste might read, “Monies given to, and spent by, the federal government.”

But that tactic won’t fly either. Like gangsters, the officials operating this shakedown enforce non-compliance with threats: garnished Social Security benefits, financial penalties, liens on property, and in extreme cases, possible imprisonment. The federal government is one of the only enterprises in our entire country where Americans are forced to pay out hard-earned money to reinforce failure.

Some reading my remarks here may conclude I oppose taxes. Not at all. But I do oppose government waste or overspending. Our government appears ignorant of the elementary principles of bookkeeping and budgeting familiar to successful businesses. It seems far more interested in social change and extravagant foreign aid than maintaining domestic roads, having a strong military, and encouraging American free enterprise.

Sooner or later, a government this extravagant and careless will collapse. Like a house of cards—meaning those composed of plastic with names like Visa and American Express—it will sink under the weight of its debts and profligate spending.

Unfortunately, when that building tumbles down, the rest of us will be buried in the debris. But we will have some things that can never be taken away, like our skills and knowledge. And those of us with this know-how will be left to rebuild.

Image credit: Flickr-Marco Verch, CC BY 2.0


Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick

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  • Avatar
    Chris Hughes
    December 28, 2022, 12:16 am

    Thanks for that personal profile. It is painful to see the government throwing around billions then asking handouts from people barely getting by. The social security dilemma for the self-employed who were always investing their money into projects they hoped would succeed (but often didn’t) is very real and very troubling

  • Avatar
    December 28, 2022, 1:40 am

    Well said!! I’m retired and will be forever thankful to my dad who emphasized frugal living, investing and saving for retirement. While I have a very comfortable retirement income it infuriates me that so much of what I earned from disciplined living, saving and investing goes to a corrupt, compromised and extraordinarily wasteful government. There’s no attempt to budget, no limit to limit spending, and seemingly no (or very limited) oversight of entities who have control over enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars (the massive fraud committed under the Covid paycheck protection program is said to be in the billions). Politicians are enmeshed in a surreal culture that has no basis in the real world lives and experiences of the very people they claim to represent. They are way more concerned about endless bickering and grandstanding than doing what’s best for the citizens of this country.

  • Avatar
    Thomas Byrnes
    December 28, 2022, 1:43 am

    Revolution is our only solution. We’ve long since given away our power to the idiots, thieves and traitors in the Federal government and now our only course is to destroy the damned monster, take our power back and remind the bastards THAT THEY WORK FOR US. This must be reinforced in a way which will never be forgotten. We, the people, must stop fearing these bums and make them fear us more than anything else in life. Only then will they be true servants of the people and perform their jobs honestly and competently to benefit the American people. God bless the United States of America. Confusion, destruction and damnation to all of our enemies, homegrown or otherwise.

    • Avatar
      Sebastian Max@Thomas Byrnes
      December 28, 2022, 7:08 pm

      Thomas Byrnes is correct. And I believe most people who carefully and objectively consider the problem agree; an out-of-control government, like any other common thief or abuser, cannot be "reformed". Criminal rehabilitation relies on the use of negative reinforcement so even applying just the most basic analogy to the situation, we already know that the malfeasors must be punished. The greater the offense, the greater the punishment imposed must be. This is known as the Principle of Proportionality. Colloquially, "let the punishment fit the crime."

      Well, the offenses of the government are so vast, sprawling, and continuous, that the punishments must be Capital. There is no room for leniency or attempts at rehabilitation.

  • Avatar
    Terry C
    December 28, 2022, 3:12 am

    Your column today could just as easily be a story of my own sad situation. Like yourself, I made some regrettable decisions, many of which were deciding not to do certain things. Now I am paying the price.

    When we find ourselves in pain because of the foolish administration of government, it is extremely easy to shake our fists in the air and declare, "those lousy bum politicians!" The problem is that we are mad at the errand boys rather than the people that keep hiring them. We find ourselves living within a society that is sharply divided with quite different worldviews. Do we seriously think this is ever going to work? I know you get all of this, Jeff. I just wish a few more otherwise well meaning folks would too.

  • Avatar
    Margaret Owen Thorpe
    December 28, 2022, 5:19 am

    Repeat: once again, Jeff has hit the nail on the head! He gets both sympathy and empathy from me. Like Jeff, I should be retired at my age – well over 70. But I can’t stop working. Why not? Because the governments that surround me destroyed my retirement savings – and my parents’ retirement savings that I inherited – by closing down the economy, leaving me with no income for close to a year. Then there was the decline in the value of the stocks and mutual funds. And then there came inflation, and the groceries that cost me $80 a week pre-Covid now cost me $150 a week. But I can’t just blame the feds for their callous lack of concern for older people like me and Jeff. I have to also blame the Mayor and City Council and School Board for blithely raising my property taxes over 15%! And the streets are in worse shape than ever because the Mayor needs over 20 assistants when the last fully competent mayor we had just had two assistants! You know, it just occurred to me that the federal government – and probably the City and School District, too – would much prefer it if we old ones would just hurry up and die. The Social Security and Medicare funds that we take away from their pet projects would be better spent on more Solyndras and more bureaucrats with titles like Chief Resilience Officer. Jeff, please don’t leave the planet and make them happy! Keep guilt tripping them as best as you can!


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