Although yesterday, April 15th, is an annually observed National Day of Mourning, this year it fell on a Sunday, a holy day when no federal postal workers must be roused from their beauty naps. So our omniscient guardian angels at the Internal Revenue Service have postponed the filing deadline until tomorrow.
By a sparkling stroke of magical cosmological coincidence, tomorrow is also what is known as “Tax Freedom Day”—according to one calculation, the average American will work from January 1 to April 17 merely to pay off their combined federal, state, and local taxes. The idea is that tomorrow you will finally be “free” to start making your own money until the end of the year. According to an even more ominous estimate—which possibly includes consumption taxes, hidden taxes, ghost taxes, buried taxes, invisible taxes, tucked-away taxes, and sleight-of-hand taxes—the average American working serf will toil until August 12 before finally paying their personal “Cost of Government.”
By golly, by gosh, jeepers, gee willikers, and snap my suspenders until my nipples sting, but that simply doesn’t sound fair to me.
I mailed in my tax return last Friday—the 13th. Filing a tax return always feels like I’m snitching on myself. Licking that envelope shut feels uncomfortably like performing an act of oral servitude on the feds. Being forced to mail those gilded insects in DC money skimmed from my prodigious labor has never seemed fair to me, not a stinking penny of it.
Today the Senate is scheduled to vote on the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, also known as the “Buffett Rule.” Politicians, pundits, and the usual cyber-cluster of lobotomized chirping retards have been bloviating and flatulating over this law’s “fairness” as if such a thing could actually be measured.
Yahoo! News seems so deep in Obama’s pockets that they’re basically up his ass. Their recent reprint of a Reuters story, “Obama likely paid higher tax rate than Romney in 2011,” bore the sour stench of partisan unfairness. The first red flag is the word “likely”; the second is the fact that although Romney’s tax rate was lower, he’ll pay about TWENTY TIMES the amount of taxes to the federal government that Obama did last year. Did he use twenty times the government services? Not bloody likely, especially considering all of Obama’s international hunting safaris, local rodeo and karaoke-bar appearances in the American heartland, and hip-hop barbecues at the White House. It’s probable that Obama received a laughably larger amount in free government perks than he paid in taxes. If anything, the tax rate seems unfair to Romney, as much as it pains me to defend him in any way.
Both Romuloid and Obamatron seem like slithery slimy sneaky snakes to me. I bear equal amounts of distrust for both men. But seeing how Yahoo! appeared to selectively choose pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to create the impression that Obama was being maltreated made me realize how unfairly terms such as “fairness” and “paying your fair share” are being bandied around this election year.
Statistics are almost easier to manipulate than voters are, which is why we’ll see endless pictograms until Election Day that define unfairness in contradictory ways. We’ll hear that the dreaded “1%” make a huge chunk of the money, but not that they pay an even bigger chunk of the taxes. We’ll hear that the upper crust is paying a consistently lower percentage of their income in taxes, but not that the bottom half is, too. And even though it’s widely acknowledged that the Buffett Rule will accomplish next to nothing when it comes to digging us out of the $15-trillion trench into which we’ve been unwillingly dug—perhaps with the intent to bury us—we’re expected to take cheer that this empty gesture merely symbolizes fairness.
“Fairness” is a poisonously subjective notion, a cheap emotional appeal. Fairness is in the eye of who feels they’re getting screwed. At any given time, that’s pretty much everybody.
People seem to have a hard time distinguishing between nature’s elemental unfairness and what’s fair in human interactions. No, it’s not fair that some people are born smarter or wealthier or better-looking than others, and if you wind up on the short end of any of these pointed sticks, you’ll likely feel that life has been unfair to you. But basing the idea of “fairness” on personal envy seems like a crass political ploy to garner votes by promising to assuage inferiority complexes from coast to coast.
Just as millions—perhaps hundreds of millions—of Americans probably feel as if they suffer unfairly from unequal wealth distribution, there’s probably an element of the well-heeled who feel as if it’s unfair to burden them with the cost of feeding, housing, clothing, and wiping endless masses of unskilled, ineducable, dysgenic Cro-Magnons. In many cases they probably feel as if anyone who contributes nothing to tax revenues should receive zero benefits from the system.
From every angle, the main problem is that it’s all being approached as a moral dilemma—the subjective notion of “fairness”—rather than as a mathematical problem. Our culture has become so soft, fat, and sensitive, people are far more afraid of appearing heartless than they are of appearing illogical.
The sad mathematical truth—which is possibly why they’re avoiding it—is that nothing that either the Republicans or Democrats are proposing will leave more than a scratch on the deficit. And that’s a monster that will eat us all alive. All the partisan moral angling seems like crass maneuvering to figure out the most “compassionate” way to stick us with a bill that they ran up at our expense.
The question shouldn’t be, “Who should pay the bill?” but rather, “How the hell did this bill get so big?” And since you insist on talking about fairness, what’s fair about forcing people to pay for things that they never chose to buy? Good luck answering that one. The deficit is currently so huge, one gets the sense that someone’s trying to force a financial collapse. But that would be paranoid, wouldn’t it?
Our trusted public servants are not handling their spending very well. And I’m not the one who raised the issue of fairness, but since they won’t shut up about it, I don’t see what’s fair about the fact that every living American somehow “owes” the government $50,000 and probably far more when you consider unfunded Medicare, pension, and Social Security liabilities.
As I see it, the fairest thing would be to indenture all living members of Congress and the Federal Reserve, past and present, to lifelong hard labor on agricultural plantations to start paying off this massive bill they’ve incurred at our expense and without our consent. I would also insist that their suffering be broadcast on C-SPAN 24 hours a day under blinding Klieg lights so they never really get to sleep. Like the Buffett Rule, this would be a symbolic gesture that has little effect on the deficit. But it would have the incalculably positive result of frightening all wannabe future financial vampires seeking to gorge themselves on the public jugular vein from ever spending another dollar beyond their means.
It’s only fair.
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