I have a sad tax tale. Once upon a time I owned some Apple stock. I bought it cheap using some roll-over IRA money that I had when I changed jobs in the late 1980’s. Sometime in the 1990’s I had a good income year, at least, that is what my accountant told me though I couldn’t find that “good income” in my checking or savings account. So when April 15th rolled around and I saw what I owed the IRS I was scrambling for money. The only place I did have some spare cash was in my IRA.
Now if you remember anything about Apple back then, they booted Steve Jobs out, brought in the Pepsi guy and pretty soon, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, the stock began to tank. Of the four or five stocks I owned Apple, at least according to my stockbroker, seemed to be the most logical one to sell since it was slipping and my “gain” would be less since I would have to pay a penalty for dipping into my IRA.
Long story short, if, and this is the big-ass IF, if I still owned that Apple stock today, with splits, it would be worth in the neighborhood of $1,500,000.00. Am I bitter? Just a little a bit. Bitter enough that I sill keep track of it almost 20 years later. Bitter enough to know that retirement should be right around the corner and I don’t have a pot to pee in. But hey, I still got my health and some of my hair although most of it is growing out of my ears.
90% of Americans don’t understand anything about taxes except this, it seems like we pay too much and to many. Between Federal, State and Sales taxes it would seem that there is plenty of money out there to keep this country going. But here is the thing, the convenient truth that average Joe and Josephine Deplorable doesn’t know or don’t want to know, the vast majority of the tax burden for this great country falls on the shoulders of 90% of Americans, that’s right me, you and Joe and Josephine Deplorable.
You see rich folks, the other 10% do pay a lot in taxes, but as a percentage of their overall income, as compared to the other 90%, they really don’t. It isn’t and never has been an equitable system. So why is that? Tax codes, tax laws, loopholes, paper losses, stuff H&R Block can’t and won’t be able to help you and I with.
I am not a fan of taxes and I have Apple to thank for my continued bitterness, but I understand that our government needs money to run. I know that there are people out there that genuinely need the governments help to eat, stay warm, and keep the lights on. But I also know that there is government waste like, Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price spending $400,000 on private charter planes over the last few months. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spending $58,000 on military and private flights, $25,000 to build a private phone booth and for whatever reason he feels the need to have a ten person, 24/7 security detail. Have I mentioned that the Secret Service has requested more millions of dollars so that they can take care of the royal family in the manner in which they are accustomed to living? Let’s all say it together, “Drain the swamp, drain the swamp”. I feel better don’t you?
This very vague new “tax plan” is all about optics, smoke and mirrors. Rest assured the big winners will be the 10% and corporations. The theory is that the savings the 10% and the corporations will realize will be plowed back into the economy. That has never happened. It didn’t happen in the past and it won’t happen today or tomorrow. Trickle down economics is a proven flop unless of course the government is doing the trickling. Individuals and corporations will simply hoard the extra cash this new “tax plan” provides them just as they are hoarding it today. Apple has a cash pile of $261.5 billion.
So Joe and Josephine Deplorable hear “largest tax cut in our country’s history” and “protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer” and “the tax strategy that Ronald Reagan used” and wave their red baseball caps in the air and scream “Hell Yeah!”. But they have no idea what they are hell yeahing about, none of us do. You see they are just being spoon fed words and attention and neither of those are accepted currency at their local bank.
As that great sage George Carlin once noted, “The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep ’em showin’ up at those jobs.” That is and has been the true story of America and this new “tax plan” isn’t and won’t change that tale.