The simplistic slogans — that we're poor because of taxes, that we'd be rich if we just let the corporations run rampant, and that we should do in our government — divide us and drive us to ruin. We will always have some form of government. It shouldn't be a corporatocracy used on us; it should be us taking care of ourselves fairly, efficiently and responsibly. But I see reasons for the anger at taxes and have a partial solution to that.
As an employee I would resent that taxes were taken out of what I had earned. Later in life I realized most of those were for my own benefit. The bulk of them went to Social Security, a sort of enforced savings that I now rely on to survive.
When I was unemployed I discovered the little tax for that meant I could survive temporary joblessness. Another time I was injured on the job and discovered I was protected by a workmen's compensation tax I hadn't even paid into. I'm glad I have a government that manages these three taxes.
As an employer I discovered ample reason to resent taxes.
One, employers must match what their employees pay to their own Social Security. My earlier resenting mysterious taxes kept me from appreciating how much more than wages my employers were paying on my account.
Two, employers not only pay half the Social Security of their employees, they pay more on numerous little taxes like unemployment, workers' compensation insurance, liability insurance, bonds, fees, etc.
Three, on top of the sting of paying were the annoying forms and reporting I had to file. It felt snoopy, demanding and demeaning.
Employers do more and pay out more than they are appreciated for. All the record keeping, paperwork and payments go on in the background and get overlooked. As an employee, I didn't realize how much my employers did for me and how much my government did, too. Both get resented when both should be thanked.
What would increase understanding and appreciation of both would be a short, simple, explanatory document passed out to employees at their hiring and then once a year detailing what all those little taxes go to, how much more the employer has to do and pay (taxes and other mandated expenses), and especially that the employer pays half of the hefty Social Security tax. It would explain the reasons for those taxes, what immediate and eventual benefits are inherent in them, how much the employer does on the employee's behalf, and how our government manages all this as our long-range social safety net.
At 67, I have come to very much appreciate both the employers I had and the government I have. Without Social Security and Medicare I (and most of our society) would be utterly destitute. The anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric is suicidal; it undermines the civil in our civilization.
Those who think lower taxes mean more jobs should look at what happened to our jobs and debt during the huge Bush tax cuts era. The wealthy and the large corporations hid their money in non-taxed foreign banks instead of investing in our jobs or our society. They ridicule, weaken and subvert our government as they raid our commonwealth, abandon our workers and poison our environment.
I want a government that mitigates against their endless taking, rescues and restores our middle class and is fairly funded to do both. Resenting taxes and attacking government seems patriotic until we realize it undermines and ruins us. Appreciating both (and the employers who must deal with this cumbersome system) relates us as employees, employers and citizens more appreciatively and responsibly.
Brad Carrier lives in Ashland.