There are not too many things in this world that stir the pot more than a good discussion on taxes. “Property taxes are too high!” — “Those people don’t pay their fair share.” — “We pay too much!” — “Why do they tax Social Security?” The topics are endless and each person is affected differently due to their unique circumstances. So, can there ever really be any real agreement? Should there be? Are there any rules or boundaries we can all try to live by and agree with? Let us explore, shall we?
First, theory on tax is something that goes way back. “Render to Caesar,” anyone? If we look around the world and throughout history, we find many different attempts to support our societal structures. Even within our union there are vastly different strategies. Some states have no income taxes. Some have high sales tax. Graduated income tax is common and estate taxes vary. How can this all be? Well, different regions have specific situations and certain systems make more sense. For example, areas with high hospitality have sales taxes, where areas with sparse populations may find heavier real estate taxes more beneficial. In addition, taxes are not only used to fund “the common good” anymore, but have also become ways to shape social behavior and give priority to certain groups to justify the means. This is done from every side.
In order to take this further, there is some structure we need to create. First, we believe that taxes are necessary to provide for our existence as a nation. Second, we understand there are many opinions. Third, there will never be a perfect tax system as there are too many variables in our advanced societal make-up.
Call me old fashioned, but on the personal side, I believe taxes should make sense, those spending them should use fiduciary care, and there should be accountability measures in place for outcomes. Well, “that’s nice, Lee, but what’s your point?” I believe that government action and the sheer amount of money currently being spent is going to greatly test all previous thoughts relating to taxes and may even remove some of our conversational options. The economic situation over recent times has placed all points on display. I used to concern myself with how two people could look at the same economic system and have two completely different opinions. Or how do we take care of the least among us while balancing the demotivating factors high taxes tend to cause. Now I wonder if destiny is tapping us on the shoulder and we need to shift our motivations toward not what we can do, but how exactly we will manage what is in front of us going forward.
We are the most successful country in the history of civilization and we contribute greatly to income, goods, and services around the world. This debate could go on for a long time. I get it. I want all of us to continue to be able to sit around the dinner table and shape this world. It’s what makes us who we are. It just seems like the further we get from shore, getting back will become quite a task. We need to decide what we want as a country, or those decisions are going to be made for us and nothing I mentioned above will even matter. Straight Up!