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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Taxation WITH Representation Part II

So, last post I covered the basics of a tax system based on the United Way fund allocation model.

It raises some questions – which I will now address.

- Organized crime and the black market

Black markets exist because of government intervention in the market. If you make something illegal and people still want it? They will figure out a way to get it. So make it legal. Put in safety rules and policies to safeguard the public and tax the hell out of the provider and the consumer.

So, on the legalization docket…

- Prostitution (of age)
- Drugs (didn’t we learn anything from prohibition?)
- Euthanasia (think of the industry it would create, the money and energy saved, and the potential win-win for the environment and for those of us who enjoy living?)
-The live organ market
- Adoptions
- Gambling

Are these things victimless crimes? Not under the current system. Could they be? You bet. When you hide things in a closet because they are illegal or because they invoke shame? That’s when the sick and twisted nature of human beings flourishes unchecked (Congressman Foley, anyone?).

I say get it out in the open. Be honest about your nature and human nature. Embrace our real selves. Own up to stuff. Doing so would greatly cut down on the victimization (and criminalization) of women, minorities, and children. If everything is above the table, because there is nothing to be gained by being under it – it would all be out there where we could see it, legislate it, control it and tax it.

At the same time – some things would have to remain illegal – like anything where animals are pitted against one another. The nice thing is – if the above stuff is made legal, law enforcement would have more time to devote to the well-being of all animals and people.

The poor

There are three classes of ‘the poor’ – as I see it:

- The working poor: doing everything they can to keep their heads up
- The lazy poor: doing everything they can to stay on the dole and off someone’s payroll
- The real poor: those who have nothing, due to illness (mental/physical), crime, or victimization.

The latter of these three will always be among us. Some things cannot be planned for or overcome. They must be endured. That said – those who simply can’t support themselves are worthy of help. Always. And any civilized society will see that their basic needs are met and that they not suffer in an unhealthy environment or at the hands of others. For some this is a temporary situation – they just need a leg up. For others, it is a life long condition. In either case they constitute the truly needy and are deserving of our tax dollars. If this is an issue you wish to support… then just check the yes box.

The working poor: Some will argue that what once was the middle class is now the working poor. But a quick reality check will prove that is nothing more than political spin. The reality is: most of us are truly blessed in this country. We have way too much of everything. We have access to way too much of everything. We feel entitled to way too much of everything. The one thing the middle class has become real good at is whining – loudly. The squeaky wheel gets the media attention. The media has a financial reason to give airtime to this group’s grievances, for this group happens to be the ones who can afford to buy (and do buy) their advertisers’ products!

The middle class. They suffer. Oh, really?

They breed. They buy their kids whatever their kids want. They send their kids to schools (private or public) and to college. They drive SUV’s. Many work – very hard. Many want to give their kids ‘everything that they didn’t have growing up’.

Now – hold on – reality check - is that REALLY such a good idea?

It seems to me that being handed everything you want is a good way to teach an individual to have unrealistic expectations regarding the way the world works and what they are entitled to. It blurs the lines between what one needs and what one wants. It creates a generation of even louder whiners. So, let’s for now agree that the working poor does not include the middle class. The middle class, many of which self-identify as the working poor, are poor because of the poor choices they make on a daily basis (credit-card debt, buying a home they cannot afford, buying etc.) and the sense of entitlement their parents instilled in them (little did they know). In short – if you are buying your kids a $200 pair of basketball shoes or are driving an SUV that is less than 5 years old – you are not the working poor.

The real working poor are disconnected from the community as a whole. They need because they lack. They lack access to work that pays well – due to issues of citizenship, lack of education and job skills. They work because they have something the lazy poor do not – pride. They don’t want to be part of the problem – the working poor wants to be part of the solution. So why don’t they get that leg up?

Unfortunately, a lot of unscrupulous employers take advantage of these people. For example: employers who hire illegal aliens for domestic work because ‘they will work cheap’ and will accept jobs that come minus benefits and protection under the law. Or employers who, in order to maintain their profit margin hire such people because without them – they could not stay in business. How many restaurants do you think would still be able to function without those ‘guys’ in the backroom? The same is true of many fast food franchises. These are the people for whom the concept of minimum wage actually exists. Is it any wonder that getting the minimum wage set at a level that people could actually live off of is so difficult to achieve? Most politicians are simply out of touch with what it means to be poor – partly due to the fact that most of the middle class is also out of touch about what it means to be poor. Poor does not mean lazy; poor means trapped - trapped due to domestic violence, citizenship issues, lack of access to decent medical care or lack of education/skills.

As for the lazy poor, they have more in common with the middle class than they do with the working poor or the truly needy. They know how to whine. It’s a skill passed from generation to generation. They know how to work every angle and slide by unnoticed – well, that is until they don’t get something they feel entitled to. Then suddenly they have all the energy they need – to protest, to call attention to the fact that “they ain’t getting’ theirs”.

Many of these people can work, but won’t – because, unlike the working poor – they would rather be the problem than be part of any solution. They simply refuse to struggle. Struggle takes effort they don’t wish to expend. They just want everything given to them. Sound familiar? You see, I have a feeling the suburbs are the new breeding ground for the future lazy poor.

So – what to do with them? To them? For them?

Do we turn a cold shoulder to them? Get rid of the programs that currently support them? Stop building homes and apartment complexes for them to watch T.V. and breed in?

Well… perhaps.

If you don’t have a place to live – you don’t have a place to breed (in theory) – or at least it makes breeding difficult. If only those who could prove a means of support could breed – there would be less of the lazy poor (eventually). Their customs, accepted practices, and ideology of entitlement would die out as their number dwindled. Basically, the only gene pools that would be allowed to flourish are those of working people. This is one of the values this country was built upon – the idea that if you work – you can achieve. Just what that achievement constitutes has been elevated generation by generation. My parents – neither of whom are college educated – now have children who are – children who work in jobs that contribute more to the overall economy and social structure than the previous generations of our family. Hopefully, if my brothers and sisters do not buy into the whole concept of being ‘the working poor’ and truly work up to their potential, then they will support and inspire their children to do as well if not better.

Of course to do this… values would need to be taught… passed down. Which means parents would actually have to spend time with their kids – instead of sitting them in front of the television, or having another parent bus them around to various after school activities. Maybe if parents spent more time with their kids – their kids would not feel the need to ask for a $200 pair of basketball shoes as proof of their parents’ love and parents would not have to work the extra hours to pay for those shoes or buy those shoes just to ease their guilty conscious.

I, for one, do not want to live in a world where a rapper, a rock star, a basketball player, a video game, a movie or any flavor-of-the-month celebrity forms the values of children – which is exactly what those $200 basket ball shoes represent - values.

Instead of values, we teach our children to want. We teach them to want, but do not give them the tools they need in order to earn what it is they want. We also don’t teach them the difference between wanting and needing.

Yes – our consumer-obsessed society is really that messed up. And it’s only getting worse with each generation, each new video game, each new celebrity endorsement, and….

…each pair of $200 sneakers.

Oh… while you read this? Those sneakers were replaced by a new model.

It’s price?

More than our society can afford, trust me.

Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcome.