UNCLE SAM NEEDS YOU!.. to contribute your fair share of taxes

Taxes Are a Pain

It’s so hard to pay taxes. I’ve struggled with that April 15th deadline all my adult life. I’m almost never ready, and I usually have to estimate what I owe and file for an extension when I send my check. Tax time often brings a financial crisis for me even though I’ve tried as hard as I could to keep up with quarterly payments throughout the year. But there is something gratifying about it too. The annual creation of my detailed books is a review of my life. It’s surprising how emotionally compelling the lines in a checkbook can be when you really focus on a whole year of them one by one. A checkbook is like a diary. I always feel like I have completed a therapeutic review of my life with my accountant – my financial therapist – when my taxes are finally finished. Then there’s that moment of actually writing the tax checks. It hurts. Sometimes it really hurts a whole lot. But I always feel a sense of pride and satisfaction too. It’s like the feeling of civic pride that swells in my chest when I vote. It’s a moment of thanksgiving and gratitude for everything the Founders and the Constitution, and the country have given me. I know the system isn’t perfect, but I did what I could to help.

There are a whole lot of things that my taxes pay for that I do not believe in or agree with. Doesn’t everybody feel that way? It really frustrates me that such a high percentage of my tax check goes to the military and wars that should never be fought. It infuriates me that some of my hard-earned tax dollars help to comprise huge subsidies for the wealthiest corporations in the history of the earth – the oil companies. That’s just wrong. And it angers me that many multi-millionaires and billionaires pay only 13% to 15% of their enormous incomes in taxes, while I have to pay 30% to 35% and often have a very hard time scraping it together. But my overarching emotion when writing that tax check is patriotic pride and gratitude. I want to help support my country. I like thinking that some of my tax money helps educate our children and feed and house those who are down and out. It feels good to know that a few of my dollars are funding libraries and infrastructure improvements and even the arts. I think a few pennies still go to the arts. It should be a whole lot more. I’d certainly pay more taxes to help fund the arts.

I’d Pay More Taxes

I’m not just a liberal. I’m one of those famous “tax and spend liberals” you’ve heard so much about. I’d pay more taxes for all kinds of programs, benefits and services that advanced democracies around the globe have proven can be efficiently and effectively provided by government – education, healthcare, transportation, research and development, support for the poor and elderly, the democratic process, and (yes) the arts.

  •  Education – I’d pay higher taxes to guarantee that every American who wants technical training or a college education after high school would get it from well-paid educators.
  • Healthcare – A lot of us would be willing to pay more in taxes for a real single-payer public healthcare system that would cover all our medical needs from cradle to grave.
  • Transportation – With Global Climate Change and the price of gas, isn’t it time we all paid a few more dollars in taxes to build real mass transit systems across this nation?
  • Research & Development – When did Americans stop believing in the power of science? We need to fund research in medicine, alternative energy sources, and thousands of projects.
  • Support for the Poor and Elderly – We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. A civilized society would not allow 40% of its children to struggle in poverty and abandon its elderly.
  • The Democratic Process – Let’s pay more taxes for government-funded campaigns, and get rid of these PACs that are ruining our free and fair electoral system. No, corporations are not people, but they should do their patriotic duty to help government fund democratic elections.
  • And (yes) The Arts – An advanced democracy that wants to be the leader of the free world must do what it can to advance culture and the arts – the soul and conscience of any society.

Responsible Citizenship

My parents are hard-working, service-minded, solid middle class Americans in their mid-80s who also happen to be some of the most progressive people I have ever known. They taught me to strive to be a responsible citizen and do my fair share to help society work for all of us. When neighboring towns were flooded, they loaded all of us in the station wagon to offer our clean-up help and labor. When our church called our family to lead a service project for a profoundly poor village in Mexico, we piled into that station wagon again and drove thousands of miles to dig wells, start a school and petition the Mexican government for electrical service. I was the official translator for that project, with only two years of high school Spanish. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My parents believe in being responsible citizens of theU.S.and the world, and they act upon their beliefs. I have never once heard them complain about paying taxes or tithing for that matter. That’s what responsible citizens do. They carry their fair share of the load gladly and enthusiastically. They do whatever they can to help make society the best it can be and to lift everyone up.

It’s Time to Pay Your Fair Share, Wealthy Americans and Corporations!

I wish the extremely wealthy citizens and corporations among us would feel some of that civic duty and patriotic pride in supporting Uncle Sam and become willing to pay their fair share. At a time when middle class families are struggling to keep their jobs and homes and feed and educate their children, does it seem fair that they should also have to pay two or three times more as a percentage of their incomes in taxes than do the wealthiest Americans? Is it fair that some enormously wealthy corporations, now sitting on more cash reserves than they have ever had inU.S.history, should pay almost no taxes, let alone receive subsidies of tax money from the struggling middle class? No. These things are not fair, and they are certainly not practical in our current national economic condition.

Uncle Sam needs you to contribute your fair share of taxes, wealthy Americans and corporations! It is your patriotic duty to do so at this time in the history of the United States, when the interest on our national debt is threatening to engulf us and our economy is struggling so valiantly to get back on its feet. The middle class is doing everything it can to fight the good fight – and succeeding! — but having a very tough time. It is your turn, wealthy citizens and corporations, to express your gratitude for the opportunities this great nation has given you. You have worked hard and benefited enormously. You have realized the American dream and become the most fortunate among us. Now it is time for you to help save the nation and lift us all up. Dig deep into your pockets and contribute at least the same percentage in taxes as the middle class pays Uncle Sam. He will deeply appreciate it, and so will all the rest of us. Most importantly, it will be good for your souls to know that you have done your part to save the nation and put us all back on the path to greatness and prosperity.

— Kevin

10 thoughts on “UNCLE SAM NEEDS YOU!.. to contribute your fair share of taxes

  1. Yes, Kevin, you are absolutely correct. I, too, hate that my taxes go to supporting wars and sustaining military bases around the world to make Americans think that we are a super power nation. The rich always benefit from what America provides, but rarely contribute to it. There are a few, but I would guess that they are less than 1% of the 1%!

  2. Once agsin, great writing! Sadly though I think most people do not agree. They usually vote against their best interest, i.e. the poorest state, Mississippi, is clearly red and a clear majority do not even believe the president is a Christian, not that it would matter. The poor in that state use many government “handouts” yet vote against the democrates that established those very resources.

    • I agree with Diane: your writing is both excellent and enlightening. I have shared it on my FB page. it is very sad that, due to a lack of understanding, information, and manipulation, the poorest among us tend to vote against their own best interests, While I do not earn very much money, I have no desire to shirk paying my fair share of taxes. It bothers me that many of the wealthiest in our society do not share my feelings nor, as Kevin so succinctly points out, believe it unpatriotic to NOT pay their fair share.

      • Why does government need to be the filter for our giving? Why not open our eyes…. see the need and give directly with what our hearts inspire? Aren’t there many roads to generosity? Just askin’…… honestly… how can we be missing the mark in direct giving/supporting/generosity? I know so many people who say…”I don’t need to worry about X, Y or Z because … um… don’t taxes take care of that?” Doesn’t the filter make us “blind” in a sense? We stop noticing the needs because we believe that they are already covered with … taxes… we don’t need to concern ourselves with them because we’ve already “paid”…. Personally… I do so much more when I give freely vs when I’m taxed and I have so many wonderful friends who give way above and beyond what would be confiscated through taxes when ever they can. Are we alone?

  3. Although I can’t say I feel patriotic or civic pride and gratitude knowing I’ve had to rob Peter to pay Paul when writing “that” check……..I will admit that your words have made me feel less burdened as April 15th approaches. I think “Diane” summed it up best.

  4. My Dear Great Friend….
    I don’t even know where to start or how to start. We clearly look at all this political jazz with very different lenses.

    Take your Uncle Sam poster…. Yep, the ever hungry uncle has empty pockets alright but if you look a little closer you’ll see he’s just a common thief disguised in the colors of a flag that used to mean something great.

    Here’s the thing…
    I love my freedom and I don’t begin to understand why I’m supposed to be all “hip-hip-hurray” in favor of the government reaching in my pockets and emptying them, so totally and completely, that I can no longer support causes that are near and dear to my heart with resources I have worked my tail off to earn.

    I want minimal government…

    I want everyone to have great opportunities because they discover their gifts, work hard to develop them and use them to contribute something positive to their families, community and the world.

    I want people to look around them with compassionate eyes, creative eyes, open eyes and notice the things they would like to change and improve whether it is on a very small scale (in the life of one child) or on a large scale (donating some of their earnings to provide vaccines or research to cure disease or protect the environment…).

    But see, when ‘uncle sam’ has his hands in my pockets like right now, my pockets are empty… not because I’m wasting my resources, not because I don’t plan or save….. not because I have no compassion… they are empty because the government is robbing me blind … and because of this, I can no longer donate to the Humane League nor help a friend in need nor give to St Jude Hospital nor contribute to the library nor donate to UDS nor support Rehab nor fill the local food bank nor do random acts of kindness at the level I used to nor bring meals to elderly people who are alone nor support foster care ….. And, because so much of my earnings are literally stolen and wasted by the government I have to work extra hours to keep food on our table and clothing on our backs and to pay our mortgage responsibly and manage our own daughter’s college tuition and housing…. etc… etc… And because of the extra work hours, thanks to uncle sam’s greedy appetite for my resources, I can no longer volunteer my time like I’ve always done…. volunteering with tutoring children who need extra help, volunteering at the local animal shelter and educating people about kindness and how to spot and report animal abuse, volunteering to plant flowers and trees in the community, volunteering to teach sign language and to interpret for the deaf, volunteering at the homeless shelter to feed people in need and teach vocational skills like I’ve always done, volunteering to raise $ for cancer research…. volunteering at Camp Good Days and Special Times with children who have cancer and their siblings. NO! Thanks to this highway robbery that you call “paying your fair share” (what a crock of steaming crap!) I can no longer support excellent charities and one by one they are closing because generous people by the hundreds and thousands have empty pockets and can no longer give generously….. AND because so much is taken in taxes, we have to work longer hours to keep up with our responsibilities to our own families so we are not filling the volunteer positions that are necessary to keep these wonderful programs going.

    It makes me sick!

    If you could keep your earnings and decide where you want to contribute, there are enough like minded people to create miracles! If I could keep my earnings and decide where I want to contribute, there are enough like minded people to create more miracles! If people weren’t slaves to their jobs just trying to pay taxes, they could get involved in their communities. They could open their home to elderly parents or foster children or any number of wonderful things…. exchange students….. etc etc…..
    If you could keep your earnings and decide where you’d like to reinvest with that already earned income…you know, that income that has already been taxed… you might decide to take a risk on something like green energy or a cancer research venture… if it works, you win and pay a lower tax… yes, lower… on the investment profit which isn’t the same as “earned” income because you took a risk and it turned out to help a lot of people. But remember that if you invest and the project does not earn profit or take off like you were hoping, you could lose that money but it’s OK because you decided to take the risk and went in knowing it was risky… you believed in the venture…. the gov’t didn’t grab from your pocket without any permission and lose your money on something you didn’t support… you took the chance with your own money … If you lose … you lose and it is your decision… not someone else losing your resources for you…. I hope you see the difference.

    That’s the beauty of individuals taking responsibility and making decisions and working together. That’s what I want. There is no joy in taxes…. but there is great joy in charity and creativity and participation in what excites you and giving. That’s where people working together can solve anything they gather to solve!

    But uncle sam has tied our hands and he’s putting the straight jacket on us as we speak…..

    How sad.

    Next time you do an “Uncle Sam” poster….try thinking this way: The US isn’t the government (represented by one uncle sam)…. it’s the people. So, the poster should have hundreds of people standing with empty pockets to represent what the gov’t has done to us. The gov’t should be represented by a robber with an overflowing money bag running away in the distance like a madman throwing coins in the air like confetti. The gov’t is wasting all our resources and leaving us unable to act on what we are passionate for. It’s killing us Kevin. It’s promising free candy just like those strangers we were told never to approach as children. “Hey, come on, get in….” I’m telling you, “No, it’s dangerous.”

    I believe that people are generous… not greedy…. I believe in love… not hate… I believe in cooperation … not dysfunction…. I believe in abundance… not lack….
    Love to you… True, deep love…..
    You know that! 🙂
    In truest friendship,
    Nan… 🙂

    • I will certainly agree that you and I see many political and social matters from different perspectives. Personally, I find it exciting and broadening to have good friends who see things very differently than I do, and you express your viewpoint clearly and cogently, which is also a pleasure. I am betting, however, that we might also be able to agree on one or two points… maybe I’m wrong… but let’s float these possible areas discussion where we might be a little closer in our thinking than opposite ends of the spectrum:

      1. Since you feel very strongly that we are paying way too much in taxes, would you agree that it is not appropriate for the government to be giving your taxes and mine in the form of huge subsidies to hedge fund managers and to the wealthiest and most profitable corporations in human history — the big oil companies? Do you agree with me that our tax dollars should not be given to those entities? I’m guessing that you and I might agree on that point… but tell me if I’m wrong.

      2. Might you also agree that it does not feel fair that you and I have to pay high taxes but some enormous corporations pay almost no taxes at all? Does that feel unfair to you as it does to me? Was it GE that paid no taxes at all last year? Lots of huge corporations pay almost no taxes. It seems to me that if they paid what I call “their fair share,” you and I might not have to pay quite so much. What do you think?

  5. Yes! We do have different perspectives on this subject but I love sharing ideas and learning from each other and we do have a lot in common… much more than that which is different! Thanks for starting this forum!
    I’ll add this penny to the pot:
    I think we have to be like chess players who look beyond the basic idea of grabbing more and more tax dollars from various sources (to spend on more and more stuff) and try to understand what a major hike in tax collecting might cause individuals, small companies or large corporation’s next move (reaction/response) to be? Will it mean that they sacrifice a pawn? Check with a bishop? Capture a rook? Or, perhaps, checkmate with a queen? Will they be motivated to attack or protect?
    We could use any example but since you brought up large corporations I’ll go with that. (And by the way, I don’t know anyone, myself included, who thinks it is fair for GE to pay practically zero in taxes while a local “mom & pop” shop pays out the kazoo. Of course, that’s not fair. But spending and taking without consent isn’t fair either… that’s for another conversation… we could get lost in the weeds forever… there is just too much to work through.) So back to the example: If, by taxing or removing deductions for corporations, they decide to raise the cost of goods and services to pay for the loss in profit, aren’t we screwing the average citizen through the back door because it means the cost will come right out of their pocket when they need to purchase the goods or services? If, by taxing or removing deductions for corporations, they decide to downsize their pool of employees and demand more efficiency from those who remain, haven’t we just screwed employees who are let-go as well as those who must remain to function in a pressure-cooker? If, by taxing or removing deductions for corporations, they decide to move their companies to another country…..haven’t we just screwed the people we all want to help in another way? The same excess and deficit is just flying around in an endless and ineffectively looping cycle. Lots of money there… lots of money there… oops… no money here… no money there… It’s like trying to plug 5 holes in the bottom of a canoe with 4 corks…. taking the cork from hole A and moving it to hole B…. then taking the cork from hole C and moving it to hole B… then taking the cork from hole D and moving it to squirting hole C…then … oops! now hole D is spouting! Let’s take the cork from hole E and solve that problem…. oops! Better move B to E…. It never ends and doesn’t fix anything. What a waste of energy and effort.
    I’d love to see real tax reform and I believe that most non-politicians do, but the critical question we need to ask is: how do we keep corporations here and create an environment where business can be on solid ground, not ever shifting sand from one congress to the next? We have to find a way that allows businesses (large and small) to make long range plans and not have them scrambled every year. When people or people who run companies are constantly stressed with possibilities that go from one end of the spectrum to the other and back and forth again and again I believe that they become dysfunctional. Am I wrong? Companies of all sizes are clearly very stressed, unsure of the future and completely dysfunctional right now because of the combination of tax talk and arguing from one extreme to another and the massive regulations… some of which are good but others are completely insane. We need intelligent problem solvers to listen to the whole story from all angles, bother to understand it in it’s entirety (not just politically) and simplify the dam thing so we can all get on with life, actually feel liberty and get busy pursuing what makes us happy… eh?
    All this “fair share” talk is meaningless. There is nothing fair about much of what’s happening or being said from any of the politicians…. their definition of “fair” depends on presuppositions that each one brings to the table and no one is listening…. no one is willing to have a learning conversation because they are too busy being right or protecting their own political backsides.

    What would possibly be wrong with a flat tax? I’m curious.

    And why would anyone want to look solely or primarily to the gov’t to meet so many needs and wants? We haven’t forgotten how to help each other in significant ways, have we? Am I alone in believing in our ability and desire as caring individuals to recognize needs and extend generosity directly, without going through the filter of the government?

    There are so many choices and so many people who …. if they had their money (it is their money… but that is my presupposition) instead of being taxed would come together generously to meet real needs because there would be enough diversity of thinking and passion and desire to accomplish any goal. I think we’d be unstoppable!

  6. Greetings Paul and Nan. I’ve got to admit, I’m former employee a stock holder of GE, so at least I’m upfront about my “sins”. Thanks to a vast, complex and incentive laden tax system GE managed to, if one must use a negative term, game the system by doing what THE GOVERNMENT wanted in order to gather enough tax credits to totally offset their profits. Of course, if you don’t like cleaner running locomotives, turbines or state of the art medical equipment by all means hold a grudge. It’s kind of surprising to find self described liberals bemoaning the fact that a huge multi-national company is playing by the rules. No doubt Paul will judge me a bad person because I’ve still got some “non-refundable” federal income tax credits because of the 6KW photo-voltaic system on my roof that I paid for in cash. I won’t be paying any income tax again this year. I’ve prepaid ’em. Does that make me a bad man, or simply a fool for lending the Govt. money, interest free? BTW, great points Nan!!

    • Hello Gusmo, There are “Two Old Liberals” writing (and drawing) this blog, and Paul cannot be blamed for the “Uncle Sam Needs You… to pay your fair share of taxes” article and illustration. Those came from me — allow me to introduce myself — I’m Kevin. You can read about both Paul and me in our very first mid-February posts at the bottom of the blog. We have agreed to sign our posts at the top, instead of the end, from now on, so that people can know who is writing when they start reading. Sorry about the confusion.

      Regarding GE, I cannot claim to know anything at all about the particulars of their corporate exemptions that apparently led to a year of zero taxes. I’m quite sure that GE and other very large corporations are extremely careful to operate within the letter of the law. They can’t afford not to do so. Unfortunately, some of the legal activities that allow corporate giants to pay low or no taxes include such tactics as taking lots of their operations off-shore, and fabricating their products in Chinese sweat shops or other places where workers earn the equivalent of one or two meals per day. This is not good for the foreign laborers or for the American economy. Perhaps GE does not engage in this practice. I have no idea. If they are behaving well within the written law and what I can only call the invisible moral code, then I commend them and you for investing in them.

      I certainly applaud you for installing the 6KW photo-voltaic system on your roof! Bravo! You are a very GOOD man indeed for taking this highly responsible action. I’m very glad that the Federal Government is rewarding you with substantial tax exemptions for your solar system, and I hope to be able to emulate you in this respect some day. All of this fits nicely into my own calculation of what I have called our “fair share of taxes.”

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