Starting the new year with a list (of grievances)
By Charlie Mitchell
Jolly Rancher-flavored Pop Tarts. The very thought is disgusting. Kind of like crushed peppermint on scrambled eggs.
Many people start new years with lists, usually resolutions or pledges.
This is a list – of grievances.
The aforementioned breakfast pastries are grievance No. 1.
A TV ad for Joly Rancher Pop Tarts led to an internet search to see if it was a joke. No such luck. The search confirmed two flavors: cherry and watermelon.
A Jolly Rancher hard candy is a delicious treat. But not for breakfast, thank you.
Grievance No. 2: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. There’s just something about this guy. “Smarmy” doesn’t begin to describe his too-often appearances.
Schumer is a liberal, which is irrelevant to the disdain he deserves for deception and doublespeak. Conservatives can be equally duplicitous, but Schumer tops them all.
Lately, he’s been called the tax bill passed by Republicans the best Christmas gift ever to rich people and big business and all.
Fact: The top 1 percent pay more taxes than the bottom 90 percent combined.
Regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is operating the calculator, it’s math: There is no way to reduce taxes without those who pay the most also saving the most. Suppose members of a club are told dues are decreasing 10 percent. Those with $100 memberships save $10. Those with $1,000 memberships, save $100. In Schumer-speak, the $1,000 guy is getting 10 times the benefit! Unfair! Unfair!
Grievance No. 3: Directly related to grievance No. 2.
Heartland radio personality Paul Harvey died in 2009. If he were still on the air, though, he would be saying, as he often did, “Corporations don’t pay taxes.”
A high-level education is not needed to know the price paid for a package of (perish the thought) Jolly Rancher Pop Tarts is parsed into dozens and dozens of directions. The consumer price is the sum of flour and sugar and packaging and transportation plus advertising and wholesaling and retailing. Also basic to the pricing formula — and too often forgotten — is all taxes of all types paid by every person and business at every stage.
If this were not true, the chain of commerce simply would not work.
Harvey’s point was that all taxes are ultimately and entirely paid at the endpoint by the last person in the chain.
See? When the plea is for corporations to pay more, it’s a plea for them to (1) go bankrupt or (2) raise prices. (They could also reduce the size of each Pop Tart, but that’s another discussion.)
Is unfettered capitalism evil? Yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that the higher the taxes the more business leave the United States. Indeed, a novice looking at American tax policy would likely conclude it was designed to discourage commerce and send jobs away.
Grievance No. 4: Government is seen as Santa Claus.
I know, I know. The old elf is back at the North Pole and should be out of mind for another year, but the comparison works.
Through time, people have come to view government as a giver of gifts, the ultimate and exclusive solver of problems. We treat elected officials like royalty and court their favor. Nothing wrong with that, really. It’s always good to be polite, to have clean water, pure foods and trustworthy fire and police protection. But unlike Santa, government bills people for every expense.
Government has a helpful place in society, but it is not our friend. It is a conduit that takes private money and uses it as it sees fit. Sometimes that works for the public good; sometimes it doesn’t. Government is not moral. Mississippi taxes our food and shelter. The more we smoke, gamble and drink alcohol, the better for the state. During this year’s session, look for a lottery to be trotted out as the salvation for Mississippi’s declining income.
A healthy distrust of government was certainly top of mind for those who drafted the U.S. Constitution. Somehow, we’ve lost that. We want the government to fix everything, to remove all injustices and inconveniences. And opportunistic politicians like Schumer are more than willing to pledge to provide us happy lives. Anyway, in a more perfect world people would think a bit deeper about taxes, government and finks, whether on the left or right.
But back to this: The Pop Tart people are a board room. The agenda calls for “New Flavors.” Someone says, “Jolly Rancher.” Amazingly, others applaud.
The world is in trouble.
Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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