Capitalism – Taxes – Greed

As I’ve watched both the US and global economies tank over the last couple of years, I’ve given quite a bit of thought as to why it happened. At the end of the day, the simple answer is greed. Greed is to blame…but who’s greed?

Therein lies the rub.

Our country essentially has 3 main groups: people, businesses, and government. Unfortunately, each group has very different goals, and thus very different agendas. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

People want all of their needs and some of their wants to be provided for. Those wants and needs differ form person to person and family to family. Some people want more. Some people need more. In order for society to function properly, all needs MUST be met, and some wants SHOULD be met. If all needs and some wants are met, the vast majority of people will be content, and greed will be far less of an issue on this front.

Perhaps though, when referring to people, what’s really wrong isn’t greed…but longing, longing for a better life, for a little less misery, a slightly better existence. Unfortunately, be it greed or longing, the problem is rooted at the source of the money…businesses.

Companies want to be profitable, but unfortunately many want to get to profitability on the backs of what amounts to slave labor. Why slave labor? Simple. When a worker is paid just enough to cover their basic needs, but not enough to cover all their needs and some of their wants, then they are not properly provided for. This then essentially enslaves them in a pursuit to earn more, to climb the corporate ladder, and thereby hopefully attain that magical place where all needs and some wants are met.

I’m all for capitalism, but that is just wrong. We, the workers, trade the best hours of our days and the best years of our lives, and we do so under the expectation that all of our needs and some of our wants will be met. Too few companies met or exceed our expectations. 5% of the US population earns minimum wage or less, not even enough to support a single individual except in poverty and squalor. The majority earn barely enough to provide an OK life, and just OK is hardly the ideal.

And then we have the worst of all, our incredibly greedy government. By the people, for the people, no taxation without representation, blah, blah, blah…my ass. Once upon a time, long long ago, the founding fathers dreamed a dream of freedom, equality, tolerance and prosperity for all. Clearly someone didn’t get the memo.

As I was sitting in bed this morning, I had an epiphany. The single worst thing that our government does is over-taxation. Over-taxation is responsible for the majority of the world’s ills, either directly or indirectly. No room for more, but one quick example and one of the huge issues I see is in the realm of gift giving.

Let’s say, for example, that I have a neighbor who is in a dire financial situation. Let’s also so, for the sake of this argument, that I have the financial means to help him out. If I did, any money I gave to this neighbor would be taxed, creating yet another financial burden for the neighbor. Now how, exactly, is that fair? If I earn the money, and pay taxes on the money, why then should someone have to pay taxes on that money yet again if I give them some as a gift? Wasn’t it already taxed? It was a gift, after all, not income, not payment for goods or services…a gift!

What this does, essentially, is to discourage charity, or at least to force you to be charitable only to certain tax exempt institutions. How exactly does that foster charity and brotherly love here, where it is needed? No offense, but starving children in Africa shouldn’t be a focus for us until we have solved our own damn problems. We’re in no position to help the world until we’ve cleaned house first!

The government, on the other hand, seems to think they are entitled to be involved in everything and get a cut of everything, with the vast majority of that money going to worthless endeavors, bureaucratic crap, pointless wars, and overinflated salaries and perks for our venerable “public servants”.

The fact is that elected officials are, by and large, greedy. They want the power, the money and the perks that political offices represent. The real question is: why the hell do we put people like that in office? I can spot a scheister a mile away, and the majority of politicians are clearly just that. And what is the result of putting such people in office? Why, their greed permeates our government, and what was supposed to be “by the people, for the people”, becomes “by the many gullible people, for the cunning greedy power hungry people”.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing is an apt metaphor for both our government and the politicians running it.

The blame for the collapse of our economy, by and large, sits squarely in the lap of the government. They are the #1 culprit, both by direct action and criminal inaction. Second, and a close second at that, are greedy corporations and the greedy people running them, taking advantage of anyone they can. Last but not least come the people…some greedy, some gullible, some foolish, and most clearly too weak to change what is wrong with both the government and the greedy corporations.

I don’t exempt myself…I’ve been foolish with money, and have roughly $38,000 in debt to show for it. That said, much of that debt came from periods of unemployment, just trying to pay the bills. Some was for wants, but most was for needs…schooling, a car, medical expenses, a place to live, secondhand clothes, groceries…

However, I believe that had I been properly provided for by the companies I worked for, I would never have turned to debt to provide for myself and my family. Had the government not taken so much, perhaps I would have been better able to provide with what little I made. I am not without responsibility for my debts, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

So, I’ve learned some important lessons: avoid unsecured debt at all costs, structure all of my personal and business endeavors to make sure that I pay as little tax as possible, and don’t rely on greedy companies to provide for my family when I can provide better working for myself 🙂

2 thoughts on “Capitalism – Taxes – Greed”

  1. i know this is an old post but it brought to mind some somber realizations i had at about the same time this was written.

    1) it amounts to financial semantics, but i wanted to get it out of the way: you can deduct charitable gifts on your taxes so it is not taxed twice. you can also deduct unpaid personal loans to friends and family.

    With that out of the way; while i read your post i felt that you were missing some important points. They might not be as important as i first thought, because you came to the same conclusion.

    So, not to argue with you, but i think there is a facet that is not properly represented.
    Post-materialistic consumerism. This term can be an argument in and of itself.

    this is the definition my premiss is based on.
    post-materialism – value orientation that emphasizes self-expression and quality of life over economic and physical security.

    Consumers making their purchasing power based on this underlying philosophy is creating what i (and others) would call post-materialistic consumerism

    for example, people commonly go bankrupt because of their consumer debt that they used to buy things they don’t need. even if they eventually ran out of money for food, it is only because they first ran out of money (and credit) buying junk. new cars, bigger homes, bigger TV, etc.

    What happens is people try to fill their emotional needs by using the whims of their emotions. this is like your stomach telling your your hungry and you asking your stomach what it wants to eat. if one did that, one would eat cake all day.

    what we are left with is a society that views finances as a essential only to buy things to fulfill their emotional needs. This, being lacking efficacy to fulfill emotional needs, leads to greed to fill an even bigger hole than hey had BEFORE they spent all their money. So, many people turn to debt to reach beyond their income, for emotional fulfillment.

    A) the consumer culture in America is largely emotional driven.

    The next important value in this equation is Americas over-inflated standard of living.
    I feel at a lack of words to explain this more clearly than saying: Americas standard of living has reached far beyond the means of both the people, and the government.\

    Consider this:
    There is currently $1.23 trillion USD in circulation
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12773.htm

    Consumer debt, not including mortgages: 3.03 Trillion USD.
    http://www.money-zine.com/financial-planning/debt-consolidation/consumer-debt-statistics/

    The consumer debt has been sky rocketing since 1984 and has continued on its skyward path after a brief pause in 2007. (there is a chart in the second link.)

    An American with a credit card is like a monkey with a cocaine button. they will swipe and swipe until they die from it.

    B) The standard of living in America is inflated to an unattainable level for most consumers.
    —————————————————————————–
    C) therefor, most consumers will use debt to try and reach this false standard of living.

    —————————————————————————–

    The problem with America is debt (national debt is a whole new can of worms.)
    and the cause of the consumer debt is not the big banks who mail out mass quantities of credit cards, but the people who use them.

    The problem with Americas financial problems is not the media who lies to people that one product or another will fulfill their emotional needs, but the people who believe them.

    In conclusion: America is going bankrupt because of emotional problems. I of course don’t presume to know a fix. If American consumers all decided to start living within their means, then many factories and stores would shut down. our economy’s infrastructure is built around post-materialistic consumerism and if it were removed, it would collapse.

    —————————————————————————-
    PS
    and in paragraph 6 you spoke of the conflict theory of deviance. Not having the tools to reach ones needs. well, there lies the problem, the post-materialistic consumers view of ‘need’ in the framework of a society with an unrealistic and unsustainable standard of living, is the problem. The lie our emotions tell us that we need, that is the problem.

  2. BTW, I was just looking for an article on LLI and this post caught my eye.
    Feeling passionately about the disposition of man that is represented here, i hoped just to give an alternative view, not to change your mind. maybe you will find something of value in it.

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