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 2.012 comments