For the entirety of my time on social media, it has been my policy to remain silent on political and religious issues. Long verboten topics of face-to-face conversation have somehow morphed into ‘must shout about online,’ because a screen somehow emboldens us to type things we’d never say to another person’s face. Protracted fury takes a toll on the soul. I’m guilty of using the internet to express my feelings of frustration and helplessness with people in my life rather than raging at them in person, so please understand: I’m pointing a finger at myself as much as anyone.
However, I’m a recovering CPA who quit public accounting as the tax manager of a regional CPA firm. I cannot remain silent about the proposed income tax legislation.
We in the United States are financially illiterate, because slogging through the thousands and thousands of pages of our tax code is a bewildering, soul-sucking exercise. It’s easier to rely on sound-bytes from politicians, bankers, lawyers, accountants, the wealthy, and other professionals WHO ALL HAVE A STAKE IN KEEPING THINGS THE WAY THEY ARE AND/OR MAKING THEM EVEN MORE BENEFICIAL FOR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE OF US “COMMON PEOPLE.”
The United States of America is now a civic oligarchy (source: the BBC Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy).
Here’s an extract of that article:
The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.
So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.
This is not news, you say.
Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here’s how they explain it:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.”
Laws like the proposed income tax bill underscore the truth of the above. Our representatives on BOTH sides of the aisle raise billions of dollars to get re-elected, and how do they ‘thank’ their generous bribers, I mean, donors?
They propose laughable tax bills like this one, squawking the whole time about how they will help the vanishing middle class, when they really aim to benefit the very folks who are so charitable to them: the lobbyists, corporations, and wealthy individuals who keep their unworthy butts in Congress.
If anyone wants to understand the REAL problems with our current system, please read the article How to Hide $400 Million from the NYT Magazine.
It’s a long read, but suck it up. This stuff isn’t skimmable. For the sake of our future, we’ve got to deploy an old fashioned attention span, dig into the details, and become more financially literate, because our entire system is broken.
According to the referenced NYT article, $21 trillion sits in offshore accounts and sham entities. MORE THAN THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
What could we do with tax on that money?
- Pay down our national debt.
- Shore up Social Security.
- Make meaningful improvements to our crumbling infrastructure.
- Provide universal healthcare.
- Help young adults drowning in student loan debt.
- More. And more. And more.
Instead, we get bought-and-paid-for politicians who push legislation that benefits donors over constituents. They spend millions on public relations to spin their actions to those who can vote for them.
WE SHOULD BE UNIFIED IN OUR FURY AT THIS BEHAVIOR.
This proposed tax bill will give us more worry and less money, while trillions of taxable GDP is siphoned into shell companies and offshore accounts. Another CPA or tax attorney may give a different spin, because their incomes are on the line. Yes, one can always find exceptions in 10,000+ pages of teeny-tiny, jargon-filled writing.
I don’t have a dog in that fight. I’m sick of watching these people cloak mangy, disease-ridden policies with haute couture and telling me it’s pretty. I can see what’s inside.
Set aside an hour. Read the NYT article. Tell me what you think.
And if you want to scream at me, I’m done placating people for the sake of keeping the peace. I’m through fearing people I haven’t seen in over 30 years. I’m finished being afraid another person won’t ever buy my books, because they probably won’t regardless.
NOTE: I wrote this on November 2. Since then, the Paradise Papers have been released. I recommend heading to The Guardian to catch up.
For those convinced they must read my books after reading this post, CLICK HERE TO BUY THEM.