Should Americans Be Proud to Pay Taxes?

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

Slap In The Face Award

Transcript:

The slap this week goes out to the author of a new book called Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes. And, yes – get ready – this one is a rant.

I’m not kidding.

This book claims, based on interviews the author conducted, that we feel good about contributing to taxes and knowing there is an infrastructure in place… and that paying our taxes is like being a member of an exclusive club.

When I first saw this, I thought it had to be some kind of a political satire. But no. The author, Vanessa Williamson, is serious. She claims that’s what her research produced.

I know nothing about Ms. Williamson. But I have to assume that’s she’s young and hasn’t spent the last few decades watching more than a third of her earnings go down the ever-growing large black hole of Washington spending…

And that she has yet to appreciate how those black holes seem to do nothing but feed the ever-growing bureaucracy that is Washington.

She had to have done the interviewing in and around college campuses. Those are the only places I can think of where the interviewees would have such out-of-touch ideas about taxes…

Or maybe at IRS offices.

As if her conclusion isn’t detached enough, her book describes the government as broken, unresponsive and hostile toward it citizens.

Now, that I believe!


But how does that jibe with feeling good about paying taxes?

Is the government unresponsive, broken and hostile toward us?

Well…

In my adult life, debt has gone from $3 trillion under Reagan to $20 trillion.

And no one seems to be concerned about it.

For at least 30 years, warning bells have been ringing about Social Security’s eminent demise, and neither side will do what’s necessary to fix it.

Medicare and Medicaid are driving us over the money cliff, and nothing is being done to fix it.

The tax code is a nightmare, and hey, Vanessa, we are getting killed.

Giving away a third to half of your income is not a pleasure, it’s an outrage.

How about the congressional race to fill every funding bill with pork for their respective districts?

Or lobbyists with huge amounts of money to spread around, that we can’t compete with, and they have free access to almost all of our elected officials?

Even if retirees – who have done nothing but pay taxes for decades – want to work after they retire, they can be taxed on their Social Security.

Come on!

People pay their taxes because they’re afraid of the IRS and its virtually unlimited power.

And if they have had the pleasure of pleading their case in the worst kangaroo court in the world, the U.S. tax court, they know what a waste of time that is.

But here’s the coup de grâce.

Ms. Williamson is a member of the Brookings Institution. That’s supposed to be a conservative think tank. What the heck is that about?

In my experience, the tax system in this country is nothing but legal snatch-and-grab robbery. Some exclusive club! What was it Groucho said about clubs that would have him as a member? …

I can’t wait to hear the responses to this one.

Good investing,

Steve