I just finished calculating my taxes, and normally I don’t think too much about it. But this year is different. As a self-described patriot who supports the Global War on Terrorism, I have to accept that such a war needs someone to pay for it and as an American that someone has to be me. I imagine that the money the Wife earns doing paperwork or tending to a Medicaid patient or that I earn sitting in a meeting taking notes about some esoteric IT topic that few outside the room would understand or think important goes to buy body armor for US Army soldiers, bullets for Marine corps snipers or fuel for UAVs that send jihadis to their beloved 72 virgins. I also imagine the money we earn going to protect National and State Parks, or to pay for search and rescue training by the Coast Guard. Although I am viewed as an anti-government extremist by many on the Left, there is much that the federal government does that I have no problem paying for.
But this year is very different. Last year was the first full tax year spent living in North Carolina. North Carolina is a state with an above median state income tax along with a 7.75%/2.0% sales. The taxes that I just completed do not include this sales tax – which is a substantial hit on our household finances given that at this stage our family consumes almost as much as it takes in thanks to outgrown sneakers, a mortgage payment on a farm, and 35 lb bags of dog food for our mutt-ly crew.
The cost of gasoline hits us especially hard. While my wife and I drive economical cars living in a rural area requires a lot of driving. The Wife also makes house calls; she isn’t reimbursed for her time or for gas but she believes that it is part of her job regardless. I’d estimate that our fuel costs have gone up $1,500 or so over the past year and notice that gas at the local pumps jumped a dime again this morning. Rising transportation costs have been hidden in our grocery bill. I’ve found that many of the staple products that I buy like pasta, cereal and peanut butter now come in smaller containers, no doubt thanks to the rising cost of diesel fuel. It seemed to me that during the Bush administration, whenever a gallon of gas rose a nickel there was a New York Times article on the cozy relationship between the Bush family and the oil companies. Under the Obama administration the price of a gallon of gasoline has risen 67% and the mainstream media has uttered not a peep.
Even though I have a political science degree under my belt I’m not a complete idiot. I recognize that this isn’t Venezuela: Obama can’t order gas prices down the way Hugo Chavez can. However his policies of limiting drilling and more importantly, running huge deficits that can only be handled by printing money forces investors into commodities like oil – driving the prices up. The price of oil is calculated in dollars, and as the dollar weakens thanks to the feds spending more than it takes in, the price of oil and other commodities like gold, wheat, and copper – rise. And that’s exactly what has been happening and why Obama doesn’t get the same pass that President Bush got in 2006 (or that this article gives Obama).
It’s also tough to cut the check for the difference between the amount withheld from our paychecks and the amount we owe because of the sense of entitlement held by public servants. The recent fight in Wisconsin over the restrictions to collectively bargain that limited the practice to inflation rate wage increases is fresh in my mind. The behavior of the teachers especially was appalling and embarrassing to a former TESL teacher like me. Without getting into specifics (this is the Internet after all) let’s just say that our total tax bill this year could pay an entire year’s salary for a low-level public servant. Not a teacher (we don’t pay that much in taxes) but say, for one of those cheery people that meet you at the DMV.
Meanwhile I drive a 11 year old Honda with 150,000 miles, my family has catastrophic medical insurance that still runs me $4k/year and covers nothing, we are hundreds of thousands of (taxable) dollars in debt thanks to medical school, and I have avoided the dentist since the Wife left residency because we don’t have dental and about the only thing I inherited from the Irish side of my family besides alcoholism is bad teeth.
Speaking of teeth, the fact that my family (2010 income: $—-) paid tens of thousands of dollars more in taxes than General Electric (2010 income: $10.8 billion) is a big roundhouse kick in them. I’m still waiting for my invitation from the Obama administration to head the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, since I funded government operations more than GE CEO Jeff Immelt did, but so far nothing. Maybe the email has been marked as spam in the Yahoo! mail account that I haven’t used since the 90’s.
Immelt might say “Scott, GE employed hundreds of thousands of workers so it shouldn’t pay taxes.” And I would reply, “Jeffrey, under your ‘leadership’ GE cut 30,000 jobs in the United States. Under my ‘leadership’ my family helped create jobs in one of the poorest counties in North Carolina by hiring local carpenters, an electrician and a plumber to fix up our house. Which is better for America?” And not only did that, but bought fuel for planes to bomb Libyans and hired public servants who are overpaid and hate their jobs.
Wait a minute…
Which brings me to our support of the “freedom fighters” in Libya. If ever there was such a thing as a politically correct military operation, the US/NATO operation in Libya is it. Only the likes of “the rather crazed Susan Rice” and Samantha “Israel is guilty of war crimes” Power could think up an operation that would send military support and arms to the same folks in Africa we were hunting down and killing in Asia. So the hours the Wife and I spend working will buy surface to air missiles that Obama’s Valkyries will hand to wide-eyed fanatics who will use them to shoot down American or Israeli civilian jet liners.
Perhaps Ms’ Rice, Power and Clinton should read the Koran to understand why we shouldn’t give weapons to Muslims (as if arming the mujahadin in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in the 1980s weren’t good enough lessons). “O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them.” (Koran, 5:51) Since the Koran is the word of God, God is making it clear in no uncertain terms that Muslims cannot befriend non-Muslims without leaving their faith. Oh, and by the way, for the “Islam is just like any other religion” crowd: the punishment for leaving Islam is death. When I left the Catholic Church, I didn’t have to worry about being kidnapped by a Knights of Columbus member and having my head chopped off.
In fact the only circumstance it is allowed is when such friendship is used for deceit, as in the case where Muhammed orders Muhammad bin Maslama to kill a Jewish poet who wrote insulting verses about Muslim women. “Then allow me to say a (false) thing so that I may deceive him,” bin Maslama asked Muhammed. “You may say it.” (Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel Al-Bukhari, Shih al-Bukhari: The Translation of the Meanings, vol 5, book 64, no. 4037). If that isn’t clear to the Harvard Kennedy School professor, perhaps Muhammad’s statement that “War is deceit,” (Hadith, 4:269) will bring some clarity to the matter of Libya.
I have handed a terrific sum of money to my government. It is the result of months of hard work done by my wife and I at the pinnacle of our earning power. It’s the most it will ever get; it’s all downhill from here. She’s taken a lower-paying job and I’ll probably be unemployed by the Fall. I don’t resent the taxes themselves, but in 2011 I do begrudge a government that in its attitude and endeavors clearly doesn’t appreciate our sacrifice.