Essays on Rebuilding America: The Customer

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

Recently I went into a fast food restaurant and ordered a hamburger, fries and a diet coke. When paying for my meal, the sales clerk told me that my bill was $27.52. I was stunned. When I questioned the charge, she told me that I had a patriotic responsibility to pay more since I could, in her mind, afford more.

This fictional account of my meal is the moral equivalent of what the Federal Government does when they decide how much of your income you are permitted to keep. The insanity of a system that treats the taxpayer, the government’s customer, as a pawn in their directed spending plans and priorities is decidedly a flawed process. Taxing people without regard to the effect on the individual and the family being taxed is foolhardy at best.

Only when the government realizes that the taxpayer is the customer will some balance be restored to the stupor of the irrational spending fueled by the decades of deficit spending. As difficult as this may be for some, the taxpayer is the customer and all those who receive payments from government are recipients of government largesse, nothing more and nothing less.

Just as I would never recommend treating employees or suppliers poorly, neither do I recommend that you treat a customer poorly or with disdain as our government does with taxpayers.

How would you feel if you found out that Oprah could qualify for a stimulus rebate check from the government! Our taxing policies tax income and not assets. It is possible for the very wealthy to manage income in such a way that they have little to no taxable income. They can live off their assets for an extended period of time and pay virtually no taxes. Oprah could conceivably qualify for a rebate check. So could Warren Buffett and George Soros! Is that sound fiscal policy?

The middle class has no such viable option however. Most in the middle income levels (defined by our government as obscenely wealthy – top 2% – you name it) generally do not have the ability to live off assets and, as such, must rely on their incomes to live. How incredibly unfair!

All the current tax code does is penalize income and force the American dream to slip away for hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans. Is that smart social policy?

Anytime a customer, the taxpayer in this case, is vilified, the system is doomed to collapse. In my experience, people do reduce their workload if they find themselves unable to keep what they perceive to be a fair share of what they earn.

Would the American taxpayer be so willing a participant in our tax code if we had to write a separate check to the government for federal taxes, for state taxes, for social security, for unemployment, and for local taxes? The argument is very familiar yet so painfully accurate.

Should the system of government become so unbalanced as to pit one group against another, those with more options will exercise those options while those with fewer options cannot. Unfortunately, those without options will be at the mercy of the elected officials. I call that 21st century slavery.

Until most of us recognize that governments cannot spend money more efficiently than the wage earner, the system of income redistribution will continue. The redistribution of income encourages more of what we do not want (penalizing work and savings) and less of what we do want (right of self-determination).

True freedom comes from being able to exercise your right to vote every day by spending your income on that which you desire. Income provided by a political party is a variation of slavery forcing the average American to be thankful for the political pork coming back after the money was taken from you in the first place.

Will Americans exercise their economic votes and demand that government slow spending as a way to balance the budget and not tax us into poverty?

We need a taxpayers’ bill of rights, not with the IRS, but with the President, Senate and House as those responsible to the taxpayers. Our deficits must be curtailed, debt repaid and budgets balanced. The misunderstanding of the concept of fiscal policy comes because the spending process in Congress is flawed not the concept of sound fiscal policy. Politicians distorted the concept.

It’s time to reign in spending not find new ways to tax. It’s your future and your children’s.

Frank Ryan, CPA specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics and corporate governance for National and State CPA Associations. He is on the boards of numerous non-profit and publicly traded companies. He can be reached at [email protected]