Soaking Taxpayers

 I have a confession to make. I'm addicted to long, hot showers.

It's hard for me not to be addicted. I live in a condominium. It's one of 40 units in our condo association.

As it goes, each condo owner contributes toward a common fee that is used to maintain the grounds and buildings. The common fee also covers gas and water. The association absorbs the cost of my addiction.

The reason I'm addicted to long, hot showers traces back to my childhood, I think. My father had to pay the water bill. Unfortunately for him, his five daughters came of age during the Farrah Fawcett era.

Their hair was long and full. It required special shampoos and conditioners. They spent hours in the shower waiting for the conditioner to penetrate. Our water bills were astronomical.

My mother, desperate to cut down water usage, learned how to work the master-water valves in the basement. If we went over our allotted time, she'd shut off the water.

At least once a day, one of my sisters went over her time. She'd stand in the shower shrieking, "Mom, I have conditioner in my hair! Mom, please turn on the water!"

Every once in a while, I'd attempt to sneak a long, hot shower but mother always shut off the water. It was always a helpless, unpleasant experience, but our water bill sure did go down.

But I don't have to worry about the water bill now.

Because my condo association gets one water bill for all 40 units, I only pay for 1/40th of all water use. If I stood in the shower all day seven days a week, I'd have the luxury of splitting my wastefulness with 39 other suckers.

I got to thinking about this concept as I stood in a steaming hot shower this morning. I got to thinking how my selfishness — my willingness to let others fund my wants and addictions — mirrors what is going on in America.

Here in the midst of a presidential campaign, our Democratic field is making giant promises: "Free" health care for all; a "free" $5000.00 investment fund for every newborn in America; special government dough to help people who took on mortgages they can't afford afford to pay their mortgages.

Excessive government spending is hardly the domain of Democrats. Republicans showed a tremendous capacity to waste dough before their spendthrift ways helped get them booted from office.

Our politicians don't like the word "spend" — they call it "investment" — but the dough they spend has to come from somewhere. It comes from you and me — it is taken from those who work and earn and is transferred to those who want stuff.

I prefer to call it what it really is: bribery. Our politicians use our own money to promise things to other people who sell their votes to whichever politician promises them the most.

French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville warned of the concept in 1835 in "Democracy in America."

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money," he wrote.

Oh, oh.

Our politicians long ago began using the public till to bribe voters into voting for them. Long ago they engaged in the concept of promising long, hot showers to every American, content that other Americans would cover the expense — content that everybody else would get soaked.

And now, to fund hundreds of new bribes, taxes will have to go up. To fund the dozens of unsustainable programs we already have, taxes will have to go up more. Economic growth will suffer and, ultimately, everyone will suffer.

But nobody seems to care about that. Too many Americans are more interested in the bribes that politicians are promising them than they are the fiscal train wreck coming our way.

The whole concept makes me so worried and depressed, I feel the need take longer, hotter showers.

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  • Guest

    A good analogy for sure.  The problem with politics is that politicians need to promise things to voters in return for their votes.  People expect their politicians to do this.  As a Reagan-style conservative, I believe that the government does too much, and has no constitutional authority to do much of what it does.  I want a politician who will promise to spend less and in effect, do less, so I can take care of myself with my own money and abilities.  Unfortunately, we have allowed the democratic party and main-stream media to define "progress" in terms of spending money and doing things.  In my mind, progress would be removing intrusive laws and regulations and cutting back wasteful programs.  The biggest bill I will pay this year is not my mortgage, car payment, or home repairs.  My biggest bill is my tax bill.

  • Guest

    Andrew, you must be doing very well financially, because my tax bill doesn't compare to my mortgage bill, and I live in a very modest 1200 square foot house.  (And I live in New York state, which has very high taxes.)

  • Guest

    Andrew: You are not the only one with a huge tax bill.  I took a quick look at my expenses and saw that we too are paying (more than likely) more to the Fed/State than any other entity (including mortgage).  I include ALL taxes in that bill however: Fed, State Income, Soc Sec, Sales, surcharge fees, estimated gasoline tax, etc.  (Come to think of it, property taxes are lumped in with the mortgage payment because of the escrow)

     

    New York Times publishes this in a story: "The top 1% of income earners paid about 36.7% of federal income taxes." The top 1% paid 36.7% of federal income taxes "and 25.3% of all federal taxes in 2004. The top 20% of income earners paid 67.1% of all federal taxes. By contrast, families in the bottom 40% of income earners, incomes below $36,300, typically paid no federal income tax and received money back from the government."

     

    Didn't something like this happen to Rome?

  • Guest

    The 39 suckers ended up subsidizing Tom's addiction. For the sake of this example it's true but that's just a snapshot analysis. Our addictions, carelessness, wastefulness and self-indulgence are a sin. The wages of sin is death. Death on the Cross paid the bill but in conjunction with all the wars that came before and after. The battalion pays for the sins of a nation. When our wants and needs are not satisfied we have two choices. Ego says we are the greatest country on earth; we can have what we want. We don't have to deny ourselves anything for the sake of the Kingdom – what kingdom?

    The connection of the high water bill and taxes to the soldiers dying on the battlefield is there. It’s just clouded in politics, diplomacy and trade relations. Can't get around the italicized statement. 

  • Guest

    Incidentally, one family I know who pays virtually no taxes is a faithful Catholic family who have 6 kids so far (because they're open to life and follow Church teaching against contraception, and unlike me are fertile and able to stay pregnant once they finally get pregnant) and live on one income of $26,000 annually.  If they were taxed at the same rate as the top 20% of income earners, they would be out on the street.  Yet they defend politicians who would favor less taxation for upper income families and more for lower income families.  I don't get it.  How can we tell people to be open to life and have as many children as God sends them, and that a family needs a homeschooling mother in the home fulltime, and then expect them to pay taxes at the same rate as families in the upper income brackets?  It seems inconsistent and hypocritical to me.

  • Guest

    I just got out my 2006 tax records.  Including school taxes (which I by rights could resent since I have no children in school), property taxes (which I don't resent because they mean that my roads get plowed, etc), state and federal taxes, and not including social security which I am glad to pay because I hope I will benefit from it when I retire, my mortgage payment on a modest 1200 square foot home in New York state is about half what I pay in taxes, and I have few deductions because I'm childless.  If I adopt, it will probably go to about 1/3.

  • Guest

    Get rid of the Alternate Minimum Tax! (AMT: Look it up.) It is archaic and doesn't tax the richest of the rich (if that's the goal)! It also doesn't take into account family size or the needs of large families. It hurts families and encourages weird behavior vis-a-vis work and making money.

    My family needs a lot more money now than we did when we had one child. My husband has worked hard to support us. At this period of time we live comfortably and I'm not nervous about making ends meet. God has always taken care of us during the lean times and the fatter times, which the last two years have brought. Because of the AMT he now needs to figure out how to make LESS money so we can actually have MORE money in our pocket. With two kids in college and an 11th child due any minute, should he be worried about earning less to make more? Crazy!

    Let's go back to the purpose of government. It is to provide for the common good (public goods) in areas where other entities can't. That is why the Constitution specifies that the Federal Government provides for defense of the nation, the treasury, and so forth. There is no mention of health care, education, or bridges to nowhere. If people want a "shiney new toy" (museum for Woodstock folks, light rail, sports arenas, the internet, even government education, then ante up for these "public benefits". But keep your hand out of my food budget.

    Tom, thanks for the humor. I only shower twice a week so that each shower can be steamy and long…nobody but me pays my water/gas bill. (JK Wink)

  • Guest

    Claire:

    You mentioned in an above posting you "don't get it."  Would you clarify what it is you are not getting?

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir, the biggest problem is that the Alternative Minimum Tax has not been adjusted to inflation, so that middle class people are being hit with it.  Tax laws, like the Constitution, need to keep up with the times.

  • Guest

    Claire, you're right about the AMT. It needs to be adjusted.

    The Constitution is timeless. 

  • Guest

    True, but it does need updates regarding issues that occur today that were not present at the time it was written, such as abortion.  

  • Guest

    Tednkate, what I don't get, as I said in my original post, is how we can expect people to be open to life and have large families, while also expecting someone with a large family and a household income less than $30,000 to be in the same tax bracket as the upper 20%.

  • Guest

    Clare:

    If the tax brackets are 30% or more, you probably can't.  But I am not sure what is appropriate about the the top 1% paying 36.7 of Federal taxes, while the bottom 40% pay almost nothing, or nothing at all.

    A good starting point to reform the system would be for everyone to pay 10% on income.  A couple making 30,000 pays $3,000.  A couple making 300,000 pays $30,000.  The couple who has more income is in fact paying more.

    You said your friends "defend politicians who would favor less taxation for upper income families and more for lower income families."  Too me, it sounds like your friends are being rather honest.  Why should upper income people be punished for being upper income people?  Why should lower income people get what certainly appears to be a "free ride?"  (In reality, we all pay something, somehow, someway, to the Tax Man.  I am not in favor of ANYONE's taxes being increased.)

    Recently, we had a vote in our town to raise a property milleage for a "good cause".  I voted against it, not only because of my own pocket book, but because there are quite a few people around who are on a fixed income and are starting to feel the squeeze of all the "nickel and dime-ing" that is going on.  I have several friends who are "economically fragile" and don't need more money taken from their wallets.  Well, turns out, they all voted for it.  I was surprised at first, but then realized they had nothing to loose.  None of our friends are property owners.  It didn't matter to them if the property tax was raised.  They are not going to have to pay it.  They got the good feeling of voting for a "good cause" and being good Christians, but do not have to feel any pain for it, financial or otherwise.

  • Guest

    Actually, I don't think it's because of honesty (although they're not dishonest people).  I think it's because they simply haven't thought how it would impact them to have to pay taxes and bring their poverty-level income down even lower.  That and the fact that they know their parents would never let them end up on the streets.  Not all of us (like me) have that security blanket, which is why I'd be in big trouble if I were fertile and had an income of $26,000.

  • Guest

    Jessica, I completely disagree with you.  You say that you pay property taxes and school taxes?  Well, your children don't attend the public schools.  So the tax return that you received, although I don't know the amount if it, likely compensates for the fact that you pay school taxes but your children don't use the school system.  I myself don't currently have any compensation for the school taxes that I pay despite having no children.  However, this doesn't bother me much, because I don't have the kind of expenses that a family of 10 living on $30,000 annually has.  Tax laws need to take into account not only income levels but also people's expenses.  They do this to an extent by letting people claim deductions, but unfortunately it is a very imperfect system (as Elkabrikir pointed out with that Alternative Minimum Tax).

  • Guest

    Clair, The unfairness was my point. I don't want tax compensation for educating my own kids. It is our God given responsibility as their parents. I shouldn't pay school taxes. If I want to hire teachers or enroll my kids in school I should pay for it, not everyone around me. They are my kids. Their should not be all these tax laws. We shouldn't be taxed to pay for all these services. I shouldn't get your money in the name of fairness just because I have more mouths to feed. My children are not a burden that other people need to compensate me for. They are a gift and blessing that I should rejoice in being able to work to provide for. jessica faustinafarm.com

  • Guest

    Jessica, I agree that your children are not a burden.  I would give anything to be blessed with children.  And if I had the both fertility and the means to provide for a large family, I certainly would rejoice.  But sometimes hard work isn't enough, as evidenced by people who work very hard but still don't earn enough to support a family that size.  But since you do pay school taxes despite not using the public schools that these taxes pay for, then what is wrong with you getting a tax refund to even it out?  

  • Guest

    I cannot see any way it is NOT sin to take money from one group without their consent — by force, if necessary — and then give it to another. Yet this is the essence of all transfer payments, which make up the majority of the federal budget.

    I’ve written on this subject before: on my blog and on my site.

  • Guest

    I have 3 children in the public school system and 4 that I homeschool.  My main problem it that the 3 public schooled children take long, hot showers…well actually only the 2 teen agers!  Any suggestions…Tom?….

  • Guest

    Hmm, maybe you're on to something…If I adopt and find that my water bill is increasing, maybe homeschooling will solve the problem.  (Then again, if I see sex ed, pro-gay marriage propoganda, etc going on in the public school, I might give up on it long before long showers become an issue.)

  • Guest

    The three public school children that take hot showers need to do that to relieve the stress that the school causes. Maybe it's even the Lady Macbeth syndrome where they're trying to wash off the effect. Semi-kidding. I had two of mine public schooled also. Elkabrikir, every minute after ten minutes in the shower should add a decade of Rosary. The punishment both hurts and helps. I know you can come up with even a better one.

  • Guest

    Of my public schooled kids, one is in kindergarten.  She's doing well and at that grade,in my area at least, there's no cause for concern.  (they even say a prayer before they march to the lunchroom.

    My 3 teens who have been or are currently enrolled in public school have been a testimony to the efficacy of Catholic Homeschooling.  I think they are stronger in their faith because of the public school experience.  They see what is at risk and recognize the attacks.  One child lived away from home during all four years of high school.  She was the student that EVERYONE went to for guidance (even as a freshman).  She was the one consulted about abortion questions and peer relationships.  I'm very proud of her.  And, I know she was protected because she attended mass weekly (walking a mile in each direction).  Fr Newman of St Mary's in Greenville, SC was integral to her high school faith journey.

    My other HS students bring God's grace to school also.  My senior, who's firey and zealous (don't know where she gets that) came home on Monday and immediately started researching Pope Benedict's WWII  involvement.  Why?  Some ignorant kid had accused him of being a NAZI.  She researched the issue and had a fruitful IN CLASS discussion regarding the Catholic  response during WWII in Europe.

    My 9th grader brought "Prove It! God" by Amy Welborn to school a month ago, with out my knowledge at the time, because a female school mate proclaimed herself an atheist.  He is a very nonconfrontational sort, easy going and well liked by all so I know she didn't feel threatened or burdened by his action.  Who knows how she will be effected; but, I know my son grew in courage through his faithful zeal for souls.

    I do monitor the situation in school.  (For instance, a teacher had a Planned Parenthood sticker up in class and I got it removed) My kids talk with me openly because of the intense bond of respect, dialogue, and education forged through the minutes, and hours, and years of homeschooling.  My kids are getting a great International Baccalaureate education.  Plus I'm happy that they're athletes which means some of their hot showers are courtesy of the common coin…that means YOU!

    Claire, build your house on the firm rock of the Church fortified by natural law and reason and your kids will not only weather any storm but be the light house on a rocky coast. 

  • Guest

    I had a typo and had to repost sorry…..Embarassed Claire, I can answer your question. I am open to life and have been blessed with abundant fertility.  We are expecting number 8 and my eldest is 10. We made less then 30,000 last year.  We all should be in the same income tax bracket:  0% or at least minimal!!! The last couple of years my husband has been self employed. I am a firm believer that this insane system of wealth distribution has to end! We received a sizable federal tax return last year even though we did not have to pay any federal taxes! We received other people's money and they had no say in it. This is wrong. This is socialization! We do pay an absurd property tax. I homeschool and do NOT expect my neighbors to pay for our books or the cost of running our home during school hours. No one should involuntarily be forced into paying for the education of other people's children. Our single biggest expense last year was health care. We budget and work harder so that we are not on gov't aid (i.e. forced fellow citizens).  We have been blessed through our faith community with some aid. I look forward to the day when we can return the kindness to someone else struggling. It is our job to look after ourselves and one another, not the governments.

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir, thank you for your encouragement.  We live in a very good school district (with relatively low taxes for my area, although probably higher than those in other parts of the country), but I still worry about sex ed, homosexuality indoctrination, etc.  However, I see your point that if we instill a good foundation, our child can be a source of evangelization for others.  I'll just have to see how it plays out.  I am the primary breadwinner so I won't have the option of homeschooling myself, but my husband is going to reduce his hours to part time when we adopt, so he can homeschool if we find that public school isn't working out.

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