Pondering taxes and freedom

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I was mindlessly listening to a radio report while slicing through a boat-load of berries for a holiday celebration with family, and the subject of taxation was mentioned. This year, Tax Freedom Day was 113 days into the year, representing how long Americans have to work to pay the nation’s tax burden.

The statistics show that Americans, collectively, will spend more on taxes than they will on housing, clothing and food combined. That fact, alone, is pretty stunning.

I let my mind wander, trying to think about pretty much anything but taxes. Instead, I started saying these words out loud, not one bit sure where they came from:

Tax my car, tax my coat, tax my mare, tax my goat. Take my bounty for the county, tax my work and every perk. Work ’til noon, work ’til June, half is taken, lots of bacon.

Bigger debt

As we were happily celebrating Independence Day, it was not a day to think of what we pay, but what we owe, in the much larger sense, to enjoy the freedoms that we do.

Many paid the ultimate price of sacrifice so we, as a nation, can bask in this glory of freedom, marked by fireworks and parties in just about every backyard across our great country.

And yet, those words, those facts, just kept rattling around in my head. I doubt our forefathers had this type of existence anywhere in their collective reasoning since taxation was a mighty big driving issue in seeking freedom in a new land.

We all wish to live within an infrastructure that provides everything from pure drinking water to a secure existence for all in daily living, including safe journey across interstates, bridges, and rural roadways, with civil protection along the way. Every bit of it costs.

For that, we all know that we must play a part in picking up the tab.

It is astounding math to realize Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.5 trillion in state and local taxes, adding up to a whopping $5.1 trillion, which figures out to 31 percent of the nation’s income.

If that much is positively required, most would gladly pay it. But… read about how $3.1 billion was spent last year on pay for government workers placed on administrative leave for misconduct, some of it of epic proportions. Why work when you can be paid not to?

Or how about the National Science Foundation spending $15,000 to study why politics stress us out. The National Park Service spent over $65,000 to study what an insect does if introduced to light after having lived in rural darkness.

They could have asked any one of us with a porch light on our farmhouse. We could have given them the answer for free!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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