Are Taxes too High?


I think everyone would agree we’d like to pay less of our income toward taxes, but at the same time we want many other things for the land where we live. Things like a safe and solid infrastructure network, cities and communities with good schools and services, and a strong support and protection force in our times of need.

Post WWII, wealthy owners wanted lower taxes and concessions for the operation of their various companies. At the time those claims were justified as these powerful individuals helped forge the industrial age by building factories, mills, and other support businesses. All these ventures created jobs, and with the advent of labor unions, many of those jobs supported families with only one parent working. As a result, middle class America enjoyed its most prosperous time in the history of our modern age.

Today, the wealthy power barons of Wall Street and beyond have done all in their grasp to dismantle the middle class of this country. They seek to break unions, reduce workforce numbers, export jobs overseas, and strip away benefits and pensions. All of this is done in the name of improved stock numbers, but in reality those numbers only benefit the CEO and board members since they tend to be the major stock holders of said companies. They happily vote themselves raises even as they cut wages and benefits of their employees, all the while crying out over the tax rates levied on their income.

The Capital Gains Tax was created to allow those owners a low tax cash flow to re-invest into their business and keep them strong and growing, but the modern business magnate abuses this law by taking his investments as his income, leaving his designated salary to be taxed at regular rates. Add this dilemma to the insane number of deductions that have been created and the actual adjusted income to pay tax on becomes miniscule.

I presently pay about twenty four percent of our combined household gross income, and my only real itemized deduction is the interest paid on my home mortgage, yet Republican politicians continue to suggest that even that should be ripped away from homeowners.

I constantly read columns by conservatives who support the GOP ranting away about how we shouldn’t tax a wealthy business owner just because he prospers. Fair enough. Then why does he think I should have more expense and fewer deductions just because my income is lower?

I’ve got a better idea. Let’s cut taxes all the way across the board. Let’s make it a level playing field. Just for suggestion sake, let’s call it twenty percent or simply one-fifth of your gross income. But let’s also level the field by saying that’s what you pay; no deductions, no loop holes, no breaks, just flat and even. If this were the case, I can almost guarantee the wealthy would still be the first to cry foul.

I’ve heard the argument more than once about how the wealthy pay the majority of the taxes, or how one pays his share plus the share of twenty five others. I have one response for that…poppycock.

Yes, the higher income earner pays a higher dollar figure, but as long as the percentage is in line then its fair. If I pay 25% and you pay 25% but my income is ten times what you make then it’s still fair. My take home pay is still ten times what yours is and that is the reward for my hard work.

I grow insanely weary of reading how high income bracket earners complain they should be allowed to keep more of “their money” because they made better decisions. The reward for your decisions is the higher income you already receive, and it doesn’t matter if you have 100 or 10,000 employees, getting all the work done doesn’t happen single-handed.

All of those workers deserve to make a life for themselves too, and if they do the job they are asked to perform they should be rewarded and not belittled as expendable assets.

Its true that under our present system the tax rates climb as the income brackets go up, but the only reason that trend has continued is an attempt to compensate for all the ways the wealthy keep inventing more deductions and loopholes.

The truly sad part is men like the Koch brothers, who inherited a thriving business from their family and then litigated against each other for ownership, continue to expend millions to buy the Congressmen it takes to make their shortcuts legal. Our country and our government was intended to represent the will of the majority of its citizens, not the few with the greatest wealth.

This country should have the most robust middle class in the world. We should have a public school system second to none, a national health care system superior to any found in other countries across the globe, and a military that cares for its veterans, both physically and mentally, long after their tours of duty have ended.

Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” There will always be those who scoff at that statement, those who will call it socialist or communist or both, but without a government with the ability to act upon needed things on a national scale, we degenerate into a collection of bickering states or the “50 Angry Little Countries of America.” That was not what this nation was founded upon, and in my personal opinion, the desire for a country that thrives as a whole is patriotic.

I find it ironic that conservatives and Republicans oppose so many of these objectives, especially given how often they proclaim that God should be more prominent in our nation. The last I checked, The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, and all wealth belongs to Him. His Kingdom is also one where there is no poor among them, and all needs are provided for. The city of Enoch embodied all of these concepts and kept them with such faith that The Almighty gathered and lifted the entire city into Heaven as a reward for their living so close to perfection.

We are far removed from such a state in this country, and I see little correlation between the actions of the Republicans and the giving nature of The Lord. The well being of people should come before stockholders or campaign contributors. There have always been rich and poor among us, but the tyranny of wealth has always ended badly.

We should be better than that.


The Right to Bear Arms

Has there ever been a more hotly debated subject in the history of our nation? I don’t know, but this one has raged for far too long.

The text of the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights reads,

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The purists say loud and long that the above statement guarantees them the right to own any and all firearms they wish, and most believe it should be so without any regulation. However, the unregulated ownership of such weapons doesn’t seem to fall under the parameters of a “well regulated Militia.”

Given the fact this case has been before the Supreme Court on several occasions, I’ll assume some of the following views have already been debated, add infinitum.

Now let’s be clear, I’m a former gun owner, and a former NRA member, but I sold the guns for both financial and safety concerns when my children were young. I declined further membership in the NRA because I don’t agree with their wide open direction.

I’ve had the privilege of personally knowing several police officers in my lifetime, and the concerns they voiced I agreed with wholeheartedly. When we tie the hands of Law Enforcement to prevent violence and harm, we do ourselves and our community a great disservice. When an officer complains aloud that he is forced to stand idly by while a citizen sells second-hand firearms to other people that require no check or registration of any kind, knowing full well those guns are headed for the hands of black-market criminals, we have a serious problem. In my personal view, the NRA should be the spearhead in helping Law Enforcement keep firearms out of such questionable hands.

I don’t want to see a complete ban on firearms placed on the general public, and I wouldn’t rule out the option of someday owning another gun, but as a law-abiding citizen I don’t fear that Law Enforcement is my enemy in such matters. In the same way we expect police officers to be trained to do their jobs and use their firearms with both accuracy and prudence, why are so many gun owners opposed to doing the same themselves?

I’ve made the comparison before between guns and cars, generally being shouted down that driving and car ownership is a privilege and not a right. Yet the Second Amendment begins with the purpose of a “Well regulated Militia.” I believe the comparison to be quite valid. I have the right and freedom to buy a car if I so choose, but I do not have the right to use that vehicle with reckless abandon, endangering the lives of myself and others.

I was required to complete training to prove my competence, and obtain a license that I must keep current while retaining my fitness to those standards. I would not want to climb aboard an airliner knowing its pilot was untrained, substandard, or criminally negligent, nor would I want those same problems existing with police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel. Why then are gun owners so exempt from any such standard?

To be even more nit-picky in the face of “it’s my right,” the text reads, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms.” No, cars didn’t exist in that time, but “arms” could just as easily be swords, knives, bow and arrows, slingshots, or pitchforks. The text doesn’t say, “firearms, rifles, muskets, pistols, or cannons,” all of which did exist at the time of said writing.

Why do gun owners fear the responsibility of law enforcement? Huge numbers of people die on our roads and highways each year but no legislation is underway to ban the ownership of motor vehicles. As a responsible driver, I have no objections to the laws that provide me the means to buy and sell an automobile with a measure of protection, and I am happy those laws provide police with viable ways to track and apprehend those who commit crimes.

If I chose to own another gun, and had to go through the very same process it takes for me to purchase a car, then I’m fine with that. If we are ever going to see a measure of safety for our children, grandchildren, and loved ones, then we need to give our law enforcement the tools and information they need to reach criminals before they have the chance to act. It will never be foolproof any more than saying there will never be another highway death, but we should be helping the problem instead of fighting against the very people who serve to protect us.

The concept of armed citizens has its valid points, and in many rural areas of the country, police response time is daunting due to the distance they must cover. In such cases, an armed citizen essentially assumes the role of the peace officer, which makes training and competent responsibility all the more vital.

I believe the vast majority of police officers would welcome such assistance, but the last thing we need in an “Old West”, frontier gunslinger mentality. Unfortunately, I hear that point of view touted far too often as a solution to such problems. They are usually the same people who believe that armed teachers should be in every classroom.

Seriously? I personally wouldn’t want any child of mine trying to get an education in an environment where they fear for their lives each day. Schools need security as opposed to weapons. We do it for the safety of public sporting events and concerts, so why not where our children go to learn and grow?

If we want a safe country, then we should be an extension of our valiant men and women who serve to protect our communities, not their opposition. We should provide them the help they need to effectively do their jobs, even if that means a little extra paperwork to put us in the ranks of those on the side of peace and justice.