As I was surfing around some of my usual “haunts” earlier this week, I came across a headline from The Wichita Eagle that set off the alarm in my cranium: “State of Kansas to Suspend Income Tax Refunds.” Citing a massive shortfall in revenues, the Sunflower State’s Budget Director informed the public that the state officially had suspended all income tax refunds to its working citizens until the ‘powers-that-be’ could “figure some things out” with the state’s budget.
Now, never mind the fact that this statement is absurd and insulting. Let us, instead, focus on the sheer condescension and what my father used to refer to as complete “bass-ackwardness” of this entire concept. Since when did a state or federal government become the sole arbiter and lone decision-maker on the question of if and when its taxpayers could have their own hard-earned money placed back into their own private bank accounts? Look, I could spend hours raging over the excess government spending that has been allowed to go on for decades which has forced the state of Kansas (and others) out onto this precipice. That’s an entirely different blog for an entirely different time. Suffice it to say that we all (including our beloved Jayhawker brethren) need to tighten up our belts a little bit here to get through these current economic times. I, however, would urge you to focus in on the more systemic problem which is this perverted belief that all (or even a portion) of this money is the government’s money to dole out to the citizens in the first place.
I, for one, find it offensive that these fat-cat politicians are allowed to sit in their respective capitol buildings all across America and pass judgment on when, or even if, the people who worked their tails off and had their wages taxed all throughout the previous year will be getting their hard-earned money back from the almighty government. Our system of taxation in this country is so screwed up that it’s really no wonder that we have employers who go out of their way to pay workers under the table and keep them off of their books. As a self-employed small businessperson who withholds his employees’ taxes out of each paycheck and then turns around and pays it directly to the government on their behalf, I can tell you with absolute certainty that, if we were to do away with the whole “employer withholding” procedure and actually make individual workers send in a check to the government at the end of every month to pay their own taxes, this country would have a tax revolt on its hands the likes of which has not been seen since the Boston Tea Party. In fact, the famed Boston Tea Party would look like a college frat party compared to the absolute insurrection that would occur on a nationwide scale. The problem here is that our tax law has become so convoluted and complex that neither Joe-Six-Pack, nor Joe-the-Plumber, nor Joe-the-CPA can figure it out. If you were to ask the average worker how much is actually taken out of his check for taxes – including state and federal income tax, social security and medicare (not to mention all of the “employer matches”) – I’m guessing you’d get that same “deer-in-the-headlights” look that Obama has been walking around with on his face since the date of his inauguration. The fact is people don’t get it. They don’t comprehend or appreciate how much money is being sucked out of their wallets and sent off on their behalf to Washington, D.C. and the various capitol cities around the nation. Most of these people I know throw parties or blow their wad on big screen, high-definition plasma TVs when their “income tax returns” come rolling in this time of year. They’re thrilled when the checks hit the mailbox! Instead of frolicking in the joys of being momentarily loaded, they should be marching on D.C. demanding to know why the government has been holding thousands of their dollars hostage in the federal coffers all year when that money could have been sitting in the workers’ own bank accounts garnering interest for them and their families. What a system…
This problem really relates back to last week’s blog when I talked about the systematic assault on our freedoms which has been incrementally perpetrated by the left over the last century. The idea of individual, private employers doing the government’s “dirty work” of withholding workers’ taxes from their incomes came about in the wake of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and was perfected under Johnson’s “Great Society,” which, up until the election of 2008, represented the two greatest shifts to the left that this nation had ever undergone. The jury is still out on the current administration, but so far it ain’t lookin’ too good for we “rugged individualists.” Over the course of the last 80 years or so, the average worker has become numbed to the concept of “gross pay” vs. “net pay.” The thought process basically goes like this: “Well, let’s see…my boss takes out money for my union dues, my health insurance, my retirement and – oh yeah – the government has to get theirs, and what am I left with?” Now imagine if that mentality was such: “Well, let’s see…I’ll deposit my check. Now I have to write a check out of my account directly to the state government for $300.00; then I have to pay the federal government $800.00; then I have to write the feds another check for my Social Security and Medicare – that’s another $750.00…and what am I left with?” I’m telling you, after a few months of that…absolute R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N!!!
I was relieved to see that Governor Sebelius and the Kansas clan of representatives were able to reach a resolution to this self-created “impasse” on Wednesday, wherein they agreed to slash about $300 million out of their budget so that all of the state employees could actually receive this week’s paychecks – and, oh yes, those pesky taxpayers could get their refunds. Thus, for the time being, the public perception in the state of Kansas once again seems to be one of “thank-the-government-for-fixing-this-crisis.” Once again, completely bass-ackwards.