Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Tax Man – A Lesson in American Civics

us-flagThis week marks an annual anniversary that Americans from coast to coast would rather not celebrate.  No – I’m not alluding to April 15th – but close.  This year, on April 13th we will celebrate Tax Freedom Day.  According to the Washington, DC based Tax Foundation, that marks the day of the year when Americans have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year.  In essence, every day you have worked through that date has been for Uncle Sam.  I have often wondered, if taxes were not taken out of each check throughout the year, what would the average American’s expression be when they wrote that check to the federal government covering the first four months of the year?

When I was in second grade, I went trick or treating with two of my neighborhood friends – Mike and Jerry.  Mike’s mother, Mrs. Tucker, volunteered to drive us around the neighborhood.  I was never sure why it was necessary as we ran from house to house.  But looking back now, I now know it was to keep an eye on us mischievous little tikes. I have always been fond of candy and I will say without shame that I dashed madly from one house to the next.  I’m sure the legendary Secretariat would have had a difficult time keeping up with me as I rang bell after bell, announcing my “Trick or Treat” war cry as loudly as possible to be rewarded with handfuls of hard candy.  I was also mighty proud of my “Batman” costume that my mother had sewn by hand.882210-thumb2

Mike and Jerry had a difficult time keeping up with me as I tore through the neighborhood in my quest to fill my bag to the brim.  Mike did his best but he fell far behind as did Jerry who never seemed to have his heart in it. Perhaps it could have been the clown mask instead of the gallant super hero but Jerry shuffled slowly from one porch to the next uttering his faint if not feeble “Trick or Treat.”  The competition ended with the loud honk of Mrs. Tucker’s horn and we all headed back to the car.  When we arrived she gushed how successful we all had been but when she carefully examined the bags she noticed while mine was nearly overflowing, and Mike’s contained a plentiful stash, Jerry’s little brown sack was extremely meager.

Mrs. Tucker gave a look only mothers can give, when she exclaimed, “Why Jerry, you hardly have any candy at all.”  With that, and much to my chagrin, she took healthy handfuls from my bag and a portion from Mike’s and gave us all equal amounts.”  “There now,” she said.with satisfaction, “Now you have as much as Billy and Mike.”  I remember to this day the dejection I felt riding back home as Jerry sat in the back seat eating my candy with a smug look on his face.  In a single act, Mrs. Tucker had taken a real swipe at American capitalism and crushed my incentive system.

Jerry, me, Mike, and Brent

Jerry, me, Mike, and Brent

As we celebrate April 13th this year – Tax Freedom Day – it still surprises me as a nation we take pride in the great strides we have made yet we do little to protect incentives that reward those who work harder and take more risk than the rest of the country.  Mrs. Tucker opened my eyes to the concept of redistribution of wealth.  It was an important lesson to learn.  On another note, I also learned never to go Trick or Treating with her son again.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Taxes | , , , , | Leave a comment