Jonathan Small, CPA
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Since the beginning of the year, millions have received their first paycheck for the year 2013. Many who received their checks experienced shock and awe because their checks were lower. The reports of confused, frustrated, disappointed and angry citizens now forced to plan for less income is a valuable lesson. Envy and coveting will blind you and prevent you from giving attention to issues that impact you.
The president, by means of the politics of envy and stoking the fires of coveting was successful in convincing the majority of Americans to focus on “the rich” and those who “don’t pay their fair share.” Numerous polls show a majority of Americans were ready to “stick it to” those with higher incomes. Thus, the vast majority of the focus on the ever-evolving “fiscal cliff” deal was how to make “the rich” pay more.
Blinded by their desire to make “the rich” pay more, citizens across the country let the president and lawmakers focus almost entirely on raising revenue and making sure “the rich” “pay their fair share.” Tied and bound together in envy, many forgot that they were paying less in taxes due to a payroll tax “holiday” that was about to expire. So instead of citizens joining together to make sure no one’s taxes were raised (or that federal income taxes were reduced to offset the payroll tax increase) and that instead government spending was cut so citizens could keep their desperately needed income, Americans got a tax deal that actually raised taxes on approximately 77 percent of households. This reminds me of an old proverb:
“If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead.” — Proverbs 26:27 New Living Translation Version
For those who say that state tax rates don’t matter and oppose lowering state income taxes, reality tells a much different story. The payroll tax hike now means that families have less money available for things like food, medical bills, school supplies, gas money to get to work, clothes and anything else a family may need—at least that is what families are saying as they experience it.
Hurting others doesn’t help. Here are some questions the masses might want to ask themselves before they let the president or other politicians whip them into a frenzy to damage others.
- How does hurting employers and the environment in which they create opportunity help someone find a sustainable job or entrepreneurial opportunity?
- What does “pay their fair share” mean?
- Who determines what is “fair”?
- What makes Clinton-era federal income tax rates the standard for setting tax rates?
- Who says $200,000, $250,000, $400,000 or $450,000 is rich, and are we comfortable with government setting that standard?
- Why do “the rich” need to pay more, but the government gets to pick winners and losers with special interest tax breaks?
- Why did Hollywood get a special deal?
The recent “fiscal cliff” deal is an imperative and painful lesson: Be careful of what ties bind us, for envy and coveting will blind us and prevent us from giving attention to issues that impact us.