Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fairness

President Obama's US Trade Nominee Ron Kirk owes about $10,000 in taxes. Isn't he the 5th nominee with such problems?

Personal responsibility/accountability sure doesn't seem to mean much these days.

Did you ever whine to your parents when you were a kid about stuff you thought was unfair? I did. They always told me, "Life isn't fair."

My little brother and I were on a swim team together for several years. He excelled in most everything he did, academically and physically. At the end of the season we had a big party and a few awards and trophies would be given out. It was a pretty big deal if you got a trophy. For each trophy that was given they gave out a certificate for the person who was essentially the first runner up for the trophy... or second best.

My last season I received the certificate for every stroke. Four second places. My little brother got a trophy. When we got home I cried. I had even been put up into the age division above mine for the butterfly. I often came in fourth but ended up with the first place ribbon because the others would all be disqualified.

I never did get even one trophy growing up. My little brother? He received many. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

By the time my children came along the popular thought was that all kids should get a trophy. We parent's paid for them. Even with my background, I was never really comfortable with that. Incidentally, the dozens of trophies my kids gathered hold little to no meaning for them. They are just tokens of a sport's season.

It was painful for me to strive for a trophy and never get one. I would not change it though. Life isn't fair. That is just a fact. Learning those lessons have prepared me for real life.

In relation to taxes... which way do you look at it? The redistribution of wealth in the name of fairness... is it another instance of life not being fair for those that have had more... because life was not fair to those that have had less? Is it even possible to balance the scales? In terms of character development... is it better to just give and foster an entitlement mentality or is it better for people to earn and foster a mentality of independence? What about those that fall through the cracks? Do we have a safety net for them... or do we try to come up with a system where all conform to the needs of a few?

8 comments:

Two Dogs said...

I thoroughly believe in fairness. That is why I support the idea that everyone pays an equal share of taxes, an equal PERCENTAGE across the board. Not only is this RIGHT, but it also allows the people that make less to see and understand that there are people that are pulling those lower wages earners along right now.

We should immediately abolish withholding taxes and make everyone write out the checks for their tax bills. Most people have no clue exactly how much they are actually paying because they do not think in terms of the big picture.

"Oh, my weekly paycheck is one thousand dollars, I can afford to pay two thousand a month for my mortgage."

We now know beyond any doubt where that mentality leads.

Pea said...

As far as the tax thing goes, I was under the impression that these nominees pay their taxes regularly, but apparently their accountants are the ones who cut corners, and the amounts that they needed to pay could and did get paid. I don't really think it's a problem with the person, but a problem with the company who do the taxes. This happened to my mom - the moral of the story is, if our accountant screws up, you take the bullet.

Roland Hulme said...

Great post. I was never much for sport, but I did compete on horseback and like it or not, getting placed or winning felt GOOD.

We already pay a 'flat tax' for 40%, almost universally. Look it up. It's one of the most ridiculous things about our byzantine tax system.

Obama's tax increases are find. 1% of Americans own 70% of capital, so yes, they should pay more.

Two Dogs said...

Roland, every single fire fighter, police officer, career military personnel, teacher, union employee, EVERY SINGLE FICA RECIPIENT are being devastated by the collapse in the market. If that is ONLY one percent of people that own capital, I have bumblebees about to fly out of a dark region of my anatomy.

Please, NO MORE ASININE STATEMENTS!!!

One Salient Oversight said...

The ability to care for the weak and helpless define us as a civilisation. Our inability to help defines us too.

Our wage, our income, does not come to us because we deserve it. It is not due to our hard work or skill. It comes to us because the "market" determines its value, and the market is not concerned with fairness or wellbeing.

Our income comes to us based upon hidden subsidies found in a civil, ordered society. Without police, judges, teachers, doctors, nurses and a multitude of others paving the way, our income would be less.

We owe society for the income it gives us. We owe society for not breaking down. We owe society for preventing crime in our area. We owe society for an educated population, who can make better decisions that benefit us directly and indirectly, financially and not financially.

A country exists as a group of people, not as a canvass for a person's selfishness. The US Constitution was written for a group of people, not for one person.

There are many ways that community can band together and improve things for all. The most normal way is for tax revenue to be raised to pay for things that keep society together (roads, schools, law & order, health, etc). Without this cost being incurred through tax, the individual cost of coping with the inevitable societal breakdown would be much higher.

And it therefore stands to reason that those who benefit most from the market should in turn be made to pay proportionally more - for without society providing the peace the rich person may never have gotten rich in the first place.

Coffee Bean said...

OSO,

You seem to be under some impression that Americans (the Americans that believe in capitalism/free markets) do not care for the weak and helpless. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Americans historically give more money than any other nation throughout the world... not just at home. In fact, if you break it down between Republicans and Democrats... Republicans are by for more charitable. The difference is the thought behind where the money should come from. Your use of "market" should have been "government."

The U.S. Constitution was written for a country of FREE citizens and it was designed to protect that freedom. Do you really see the U.S. as being a "canvas for selfishness" ? WOW!

There is a major difference in thought here. I think you have some preconceived notions about Americans that are coloring your views... I think you misunderstand those that fall under conservatism and what their motives are.

You also don't seem to get that we have different tax brackets and that those with more have always been paying more. The overall percentage of a person's income that is taken in taxes increases.

I just don't think you understand.

Coffee Bean said...

Hi Pea,

Thanks for commenting! Having someone else do your taxes is taking a risk. Our tax code is ridiculous and it is easy to make mistakes. However, when you are talking about government officials... you'd think they'd have to meet a certain standard in order to be given that kind of power.

Two Dogs said...

Gimme back my bullets,
put 'em back where they belong,
ain't foolin' 'round, 'cause I done had my fun,
ain't gonna see no more damage done,
gimme back,
gimme back my bullets.