"Only the poor pay taxes…" ~Leona Helmsley

Green VisorLet the guys in the green visors go at it: tax season is here. In the midst of it all, while most of us mere mortals are pulling our hair out, trying to get it right, no less than three (count them, THREE!) of the best minds for Obama’s administration have been caught, in flagrant delico, NOT paying all the taxes they owe. ((By the way, the woman loosely quoted above, Leona Helmsely, was herself convicted and sentenced on:

  • one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States,
  • three counts of tax evasion,
  • three counts of filing false personal tax returns,
  • sixteen counts of assisting in the filing of false corporate and partnership tax returns,
  • and ten counts of mail fraud.

Do consider reading her story on Wikipedia, and/or otherwise looking her up.))

The sheer prevalence or this phenomenon within the ranks of the government (you know, those people who submit the rules, are paid with our tax money, and will purse their lips and act holier-than-thou whenever someone messes up) apparently have one thing truly in common with the “little man”: they hate paying taxes to the government, too. And they ARE the government.

Go figure.
That lead me to thinking: is it really a lack of integrity, or a basic fault within the idea of taxes themselves? I mean, everyone understands the concept. Taxes are a necessary evil that helps keep the wheels of government turning. It’s with our taxes that roads get built and repaired, for instance. At least, that’s the idea.

But the truth is, taxes have evolved into the unacknowledged arm of socialism in the country. Don’t believe me? Go visit a richer neighborhood, or a richer city, check out the quality of the roads. Now consider who lives there, what businesses are in that town. Are major corporations headquartered in the town? Guess what: businesses pay accountants good money so that they will pay NO real taxes. They donate as much as they can to charity (tax right-off), and they charge their customers any other sales taxes they can. They even withhold taxes on behalf of their employees… from the employees’ own paycheck. Again, the company isn’t actually paying. Heck, they’ll sometimes match employee contributions to 401Ks and the like which are —you’ve guessed it!— tax-deductible.

Mounted in Times SquareDial 911 in a rich neighborhood, and the police is there so fast your head almost spins. Try that in Harlem, or Compton, or any other “inner city” neighborhood.

Compare one more thing: how close are the fire stations to each other in a rich neighborhood, compared to a middle-class or poor one. I’m pretty sure you’ll find there are more fire stations near rich enclaves than poorer ones.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. All of this is paid for with taxes: municipal, state, and sometimes, federal (depending on the service you are looking at). Guess who pays for it? Middle class people do; poor people do. In other words, we’re sharing the (cough) wealth (cough.. COUGH).

An interesting observation has been made regarding H.R. 1 (a.k.a. the “stimulus package”, a.k.a. the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”), specifically, the tax “rebates” that are included within. Middle-class and rich people are likely to sock the money away, rather than spending, essentially keeping that rebate out of circulation, which in turn does everything but stimulate the economy.

Day 497 / 365 - Holy shoesThe poor, on the other hand, are going to spend it, because they always need something else: a newer pair of shoes; a warmer coat; that repair on their breaking down car which they weren’t able to take care of properly while gas was at $4.00+ a gallon.  In that sense, the people who simultaneously need a break and will best stimulate the economy are, ironically, those who have the least amount of money. Who knew being poor could put you in a better position to show your “patriotism”?

Once again, though, I digress. My original idea had nothing to do with the unfairness (real or perceived) of the current tax system; that is a subject for a future article. Nay, my real subject is the idea of ethics in an imperfect world.

Yesterday, both Nancy Killefer (about $1000 in unpaid taxes) and Tom Daschle (a more substantial $138,000+) actually withdrew their candidacies for their respective posts of “Chief Performance Officer” and “Secretary of Health and Human Services”, respectively.

To their credit, it appears they did so without any actual prompting from the White House. I’m particularly enthused withe the behavior of Ms. Killefer, as the size and nature of the snafu (unlike that of either the previously appointed Geithner, or Tom Daschle who resigned mere hours after she did) sounds like a genuine error;  perhaps a rounding error, or an inadvertent omission. However, the sheer number of those appointees facing trouble of the exact same nature, in an administration that has promised “accountability”, “truth”, and “ethics”, suggests a deeper problem. I’m guessing most every politician hasn’t paid all their taxes in the last seven to ten years, perhaps even Mr. Obama himself. I Want You!That is pure conjecture and speculation, of course, but I’m guessing “Joe the Plumber“, the quintessential “every day man” in the midst of John McCain’s failed bid for the Presidency, is wondering, too.

Oh wait, good ole Joe is guilty, too.  Well, the rest of us “average Joes” (and “John Q. Public, too”!) want to know, and that’s good enough.

Which brings me back to the beginning: let the guys in the green visors at it. Who else hasn’t paid their taxes?

Have you?

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