The Taxman Cometh
The annual humiliation ritual is here again.
Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, I have known for a while that I need to do my taxes.
The brief delay from the usual deadline is a gift from heaven, and will give me until Monday or so to start. I am by nature a procrastinator, and the overbearing unpleasantness of a thing like this does no good in spurring me to action.
I am not the first (nor will I be the last) to observe that the American taxation scheme is utterly insane.
A sizable chunk is withheld from each check a man earns over the course of the year. That amount is determined carefully, taking into account what he earns, the rate the state has set to be taken from his wages, and the information he has provided from the government. At the end of the year, he finds himself a few thousand dollars poorer than he ought to be.
And that could be the end of it. Instead, four months into the next year he is asked to make an accounting again. He must pore through financial documents—or hire someone to do it for him—to re-verify every bit of information that Big Brother already knows. If he cannot afford to hire a professional, he must make his best guess and check a little box acknowledging that he will go to prison if he did not get it right.
The government’s dozen armies of book-balancing bureaucrats then run through his records with a fine-tooth comb to determine whether he has paid exactly what he owes. If he is very lucky, they will find that they actually took more from his wages than they ought to have. He will then get a check for the money that he earned and was denied; he will not be paid any interest, and it will take an indeterminate number of weeks or months to find its way to him. If he is very unlucky, he will find that the government wants more of his wages than it managed to claw away already, and he will be required (again under that implicit threat of imprisonment) to write another check.
Surely this is not the most efficient way to determine all that needs to be determined. It is doubtful that it is meant to be.
It is a humiliation ritual, designed to beat the American people into annual submission.
I make no objection to the principle of taxation. On balance, I appreciate the benefits of living in a society. Most days, at least.
But the taxes keep getting higher and the benefits keep getting lower. At some point we have to ask ourselves what the point of all this is. In just eight years as a working citizen, tens of thousands of my dollars have gone to the government. What have I gotten in return? For older Americans, that figure runs into the hundreds and much higher. What have any of us gotten?
Plenty of basics are handled, to be fair. We are still a long way off from state failure, in substance if not in time.
But how much of what we expect—and should expect—has fallen by the wayside?
Roads crack and crumble from varying combinations of shoddy workmanship and outright neglect; it becomes unpleasant to drive in some of the best parts of the country and effectively impossible in the worst. Our public schools, when they teach anything at all, teach unhinged propaganda: anti-American, anti-white, anti-family, anti-Christian; most of the time they just leave kids to wash up or burn out.
In any American city the average person has a not-insignificant chance of being shot dead in the street. Stores are robbed, looted, burned with no hint of retribution from the state. Nowhere is the lawlessness clearer than in the country’s southern deserts, where cartels and coyotes wage war on U.S. sovereignty and the dignity of man.
Tent cities blossom into jungles of desolation and debauchery all across the country, carpeting the hearts of once-great cities in garbage and needles and human waste, saturating the air from New York to San Francisco with the stench of abject failure.
Half a step above this, sprawling, workless ghettos chew at the American landscape, underwritten by welfare checks and overcome by opioids.
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In recent memory, the only thing our money has gone to with any real sense of purpose is the proxy war in Ukraine, where billions of U.S. dollars have disappeared in the mire of second-world corruption.
What, again, are we paying for? This nation has been devastated and its people’s pockets emptied.
Whether taxation is theft is a fine point to be worked out by moral economists and philosophers of the state. That we have all been robbed is a plain truth that cries out to heaven for vengeance.