Friday, August 6, 2010

The only things that never change are death and taxes.

I have been contemplating fair, and taxes... Now while I don't think taxes are ever fair, I do think they are necessary. But in relation to a progressive tax scale? All I know is that a $1000 to a family making $25,000 means shoes, and clothes, and food. $50,000 to a family making a million every year means they don't take that month long family vacation to the Bahamas... or maybe they think twice about buying that 3rd (or sometimes 4th or 5th) car for the Nanny. I have worked for these people... I know they have budgets (usually) like everyone else, but paying for the necessities is not something they worry about. Paying the 4th mortgage is. Paying for private schools, or a new car every 4 years maybe. But they never wonder if there will be enough to buy their kids new shoes because the old ones are wearing out, or clothes because no one offered you hand-me downs this year, or food because this month there just wasn't enough overtime to go around. They don't look at the bills and wonder which one they can pay. They complain about the bills same as anyone else... but it just isn't the same in my book. Somehow, I can't begrudge that money to those who need it. I just don't understand how others vote wishing they were millionaires (or hoping to become one), instead of looking at the needs of children and families who work harder for every dollar than any millionaire who is lucky enough to have an air conditioned office to sit in and work in every day. There are some who earn a million dollars a year, and who work hard for it. I will concede that. But that is no reason to lower their taxes... most people work hard for their money. And these days, they are working harder for it than ever before. If taxes were fair, they would hurt equally across the board. But that will never happen - equality in taxes just can't be achieved on that level. And a flat tax would hand bounty to the rich, and pain to the poor. So now, what is the most moral decision? An attitude of "More for ME!" - or making life a little more livable for those less fortunate than you?

I am very lucky. I am blessed beyond compare, really - especially when I look at what so many in our own country do not have. I have a loving husband. I have 3 (relatively) healthy children who are smart, and compassionate, and can be very generous. I have a home to live in, clothes and shoes for my family that are not full of holes, or worn out beyond reasonable use. We have computers, TV's, internet, and more toys than I know what to do with as a mother. I almost never worry about having the money to buy groceries, and we even get to go out for dinner/lunch/or movies on fairly regular basis. We are very fortunate in this world, and I am grateful every day for the life I live, and for the hard work of my husband who makes it all possible. And even though I do worry about money, I do not feel the slightest animosity towards those who pay less than I do on that sliding scale. With very little imagination, I know just how much it means to them to have even a few hundred dollars coming their way after tax time.

I know what decision I would make. And I know exactly why. Do you?


Seb said...

Interesting. I am one of those millionaires you are talking about. Your argument seems sound. However, just as it's almost impossible to understand what it is to have children to those who don't, it's hard to understand what we really go thru.
Those who get to be rich make an unbelievable amount of sacrifice to become so. And I can tell you that every penny is just as hard to make for them as it is for you. It seems easier from the outside and mostly because we've become pros at it, but it's not. Put 10,000$ on the side, save it 100$ bills by 100$ bills. THEN look around you, at your friend, your family, your fellow human beings. Then tell them what you've done and see what happens. You just won't believe it. It's going to change you like your kids changed you (ok maybe not that much).

Jen D. said...

I can understand your feeling... most people see only the end result, and not the sweat that goes into it. It is the same with any accomplishment that takes time, dedication, and hard work... it is just that most people don't equate those with money, so it can be worse. But you have also missed my essential point... when I have $100 and I think "GREAT! I can save this! Invariably a child need new shoes, the car needs fixing, something breaks, or the electricity bill is staggering because we had a heat wave all month. None of these things are frivolous spending... I put them all in the "necessary spending" range. I am grateful every time something like this comes up that I have that $100, even as I am sad that it is no longer gracing my savings account. There are far too many people who don't have that $100 and the result is the car doesn't get fixed or the kids don't get dinner - and the parents are grateful for a free school lunch and breakfast because there is not enough for food, much less new shoes.

So the point is not how hard you work for your money, it is whether or not you can afford to spare some for the greater good. As a millionaire, whether or not you want to, no matter whether you inherited that money, or earned every painstaking dollar, you do not worry about what your kids will eat. You can afford to give a little more, and allow those who are working JUST AS HARD OR HARDER than you, but at jobs that do not have the benefits that yours does, to provide clothes and shoes for their children. And maybe, just maybe fix the car. Or have the money to get on the bus.

Looking historically, the cultures that survive and whose people as a whole do well, are the ones where the community is held up by the whole. Everyone helps each other. The crying about how much a millionaire has to pay in taxes to help those who need it is completely irrelevant to me when compared to a child's empty stomach.


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