If there is one essential truth all Americans must recognize, it is that the government has no money. Every penny our government spends comes from you. When you combine that concept with the reality that our government is insatiable, inefficient and even corrupt, we should all question how much of our money it takes and how government spends it.
I have written a few articles on how our government spends (overspends) our money. Today I'm going to talk about how they collect it. Not only is our government not transparent about this process, I believe they are intentionally obscure and even devious.
It all starts with your paycheck. We've been conditioned to accept the fact that the federal government takes about 20 to 25 percent of our paychecks right off the top. Then, they are thoughtful enough to also take out our Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes, which further reduce our wages by about 5 percent. Of course, we have to feed the state and local governments, so another 4 percent on average is deducted from our wages here in Arkansas.
By the time you are my age, you are numb to this whole shakedown, but talk to young people getting their first checks. They are always flabbergasted by the difference between what they were told they were going to make and what they actually take home. It is amazing, however, how quickly they are anesthetized to the government's chicanery.
So, for the average person, more than a third of the paycheck is gone before even a dime is spend, but the government is not through with its collections. Now take your already-been-taxed money out into the marketplace and you get hit with a sales tax. Here in Arkansas we are blessed with the second-highest combined sales tax rate in the country -- 9.2 percent.
Of course, our politicians will try to convince us they still deserve more of our money. We have to pay a property tax, right? The average property tax across the United States is more than 1 percent of our property's value. In New Jersey and Illinois (the president's home state) it's more than 2 percent. In those states, if you own your own home for 50 years, you will pay for it twice!!
And don't you dare travel, because airlines, airports, rental cars, hotels and restaurants are compelled to carve out more taxes from your already-taxed-to-death funds. Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to afford a trip to the East Coast. More than 30 percent of my rental car charges were for taxes, fees and surcharges. My hotel charged a room tax and an occupancy tax to their state tax for a grand total of 13 percent of the cost of my room.
In a move I can only imagine is designed to define the word "ironic," the restaurants at my destination charged me a "hospitality tax." Finally, as I returned my rental car, I was reminded of our wonderful gas tax that averages about 50 cents per gallon across the country. According to Godfather Politics, there are at least 47 different taxes Americans pay to support our governments, and they will never tire of thinking up new ways to get into your wallet.
Nancy Pelosi supports what she calls a "transfer tax" on financial transactions (House Resolution 4191), like buying or selling stock, and you say, "so what." Think about what your 401K or pension is invested in. More than half of Americans are invested in the stock market and this tax is estimated to transfer $150 billion from you to the government every year. So, in effect, if you move money from your right pocket to your left pocket, Nancy Pelosi thinks she deserves a share of that money. Really? Deserves?
The government's appetite to spend our money is insatiable. There will always be another benefit they will want to offer to their constituencies to buy their votes. Remember, these politicians are not writing personal checks for these giveaways. They are spending your money. Margaret Thatcher astutely pointed out that, "eventually (the government) runs out of other people's money."
I believe we are already there. With income taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, etc., average American taxpayers are most likely paying more than half of their income in taxes. It is time for the government to reduce the amount of money it spends and release those funds back into paychecks around the country and thus stimulate our economy.
This will, in turn, create private sector jobs and deliver more revenue to the treasury. This is not a Democratic or Republican concept. It was embraced by John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan alike. It is time for Americans to rise up and get rid of the "tax-and-spend" gluttons in Washington and replace them with "live-within-our-means" types, no matter which party they represent.
KEVIN CANFIELD OF SPRINGDALE IS AUTHOR OF "MASTERING SALES." HE ALSO BLOGS AT KEVINCANFIELD.BLOGSPOT.COM.Commentary on 09/07/2014
Print Headline: The View From The Middle Government Specializes In Spending Other People’s Money