Sunday, January 20, 2013

Far From Right


I listen to a lot of NPR while riding around, thanks to suggestions from Dan and Ellie a few years ago. I'll be the first to acknowledge NPR and probably most of its listeners lean toward the left. So to provide some balance I steel my teeth and occasionally tune into some right wing talk radio to keep abreast of what the yahoos are saying about how our country is going to hell in a hand basket led by a Kenyan communist president who is going to take all our guns away and impose a dictatorship of like-minded people of color who will redistribute the wealth of true-blue real Americans, meaning white Americans. These TBRAs want to return to a simpler time, say, 100 years ago.

One of my retired business buddies from time to time sends me emails of right wing screeds. Friday he treated me to two of them. First, there was the claim that retired congressmen and senators have pensions totaling $174,000 per year for life. This claim, of course, is not true. Here's a link that will detail what they are eligible to receive after five years of service (http://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/retirement_for_members.shtml). I sent him the link as well.

His second email demanded a more intimate response. He had forwarded a screed that bemoaned all the taxes we pay in the United States, taxes that did not exist 100 years ago, a time when we were the most prosperous nation in the world. Here's the list:

Building Permit Tax 
CDL License Tax 
Cigarette Tax 
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax 
Federal Income Tax 
Federal Unemployment Tax 
Fishing License Tax 
Food License Tax 
Fuel Permit Tax 
Gasoline Tax 
Hunting License Tax 
Inheritance Tax 
Inventory Tax 
IRS Interest Charges  
IRS Penalties
Liquor Tax 
Luxury Tax 
Marriage License Tax 
Medicare Tax 
Property Tax 
Real Estate Tax 
Service charge taxes 
Social Security Tax 
Road Usage Tax (Truckers) 
Sales Taxes 
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax 
State Income Tax 
State Unemployment Tax  
Telephone Federal Excise Tax 
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax 
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax 
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax 
Telephone State and Local Tax 
Telephone Usage Charge Tax 
Utility Tax 
Vehicle License Registration Tax 
Vehicle Sales Tax 
Watercraft Registration Tax 
Well Permit Tax 
Workers Compensation Tax 

Here’s what I quickly wrote back:

Not sure if we were richest country 100 years ago (as the screed asserted). It might have been Great Britain still, but they were fading. As to why we have so many taxes, consider that 100 years ago we did not have social security. We didn't have an extensive road network. Most food was not processed by outsiders, nor were many drugs available, so we needed better regulations. We hadn't fought in two world wars and countless skirmishes since then, so our military was much smaller. Most people back then earned less than a thousand dollars a year. Do we want to go back to those times? Do we want to return to the days when women didn't vote, when blacks were not treated equally, when education was limited to the wealthy?

These look-backs at simpler times can be amusing, but I doubt most people would like to go back and live in homes that all too often did not have indoor plumbing, or even electricity, that used dirty coal to heat. We live in the greatest nation in the world today. Shouldn't we expect to pay something for that privilege? 

I'm sure anyone who doesn't want to pay all the taxes listed in this email can find many countries where no such taxes are levied. There's nothing stopping them from emigrating to them and making room for all those who want to enjoy the freedom to pay those taxes.  

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