All The King’s Horses

I’m from Houston, Texas. I’m pretty sure that comes with a requirement to be a die-hard Astros fan and sincerely dislike the New York Yankees (I don’t like to use the word “hate” – I disliked using that word long before it was cool). So, I was largely disinterested when I heard that Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th ball, and homered at that.

At least I was disinterested until I heard about the fan who caught the ball.

23-year-old Christian Lopez caught Jeter’s record-setting ball and promptly gave it back to Jeter without any strings attached. He didn’t ask for payment, though he could have sold the ball on eBay and made off like a bandit. At least then he would have been able to get some kind of monetary value to pay the IRS off with.

You won’t believe what came next. The Yankees repaid the fan with season suite seats and a host of autographed Yankee memorabilia, but experts say the value of the gifts is right around $120,000. That would mean he’d owe the IRS around $14,000 – $15,000 in taxes for the goods.

This just highlights a conversation my dad and I had last night about taxes. Right now, we have the Big O and his minions talking about raising taxes to take care of the trillion-dollar deficit. The government is spending money like a drunken sailor on a bender; rather than corral their spending, they’d prefer to raise taxes in the middle of a recession in which people are losing jobs and houses left and right. They’re about to commit fiscal hari-kari all because they can’t give up their socialist ideals long enough to do the smart thing. Urkel himself said recently that “the public is not paying close attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury option goes. They shouldn’t. They’re worrying about their family; they’re worrying about their jobs; they’re worrying about their neighborhood. They’ve got a lot of other things on their plate. We’re paid to worry about it.” He is saying here that professional politicians know best.

Don’t worry, John and Jane Q. Taxpayer. We’ve got things under control. Your job ends at the ballot box, we’ll take it from here. It’s just too complicated for simpletons like you to understand. Let us do what we’re paid to do and take care of the small things. What’s that? You don’t want to pay taxes that high? Well, you wanted us to do this job. Pay up and let us do it.

Stop right there, homeboy.

It irritates me that we pay so damn much in taxes and we get next to nothing back for it. We pay taxes through our paychecks, and any paycheck that you get on top of the norm (which I do in the form of bonuses every month when I do a particularly good job), they go from taking 22% to taking 45%, sometimes even 50%. Separate from that, our paychecks are automatically hit with taxes for Social Security and Medicare, neither of which were ever supposed to be requirements. Then we get hit for state taxes. Those aren’t the only taxes we pay, but you don’t see most people paying attention to it. We pay sales tax on nearly everything we buy, and there’s a movement to force internet retailers to levy sales taxes now, too. We pay taxes on the bills we pay for water, sewer, electricity, cable, phone, and rent. Homeowners pay a separate tax based on the value of their property, both to state and federal governments.

We even pay taxes just to friggin’ die. Is this really what our Founders had in mind?

Now we have Christian Lopez getting gifts from a sports club because he did something entirely selfless in giving a very valuable piece of equipment back, and the IRS is already salivating. Since when is this acceptable?

The government needs to be cut off. They’re behaving like a trust fund kid on a shopping spree, yet we’re hemming and hawing about cancelling their credit cards. Really? Why is this so difficult? No more endless unemployment benefits. No more duplicate programs (or eighty of the same program across sixteen agencies, half of which have nothing to do with the programs they’re administering). No more healthcare monstrosities that Congress gets a free pass from. You live exactly the way we do and follow the same rules or you get kicked to the curb like the abusive ex that you are.

I have no illusions, however, that we are capable of doing what Thomas Jefferson called our duty and resisting when injustice becomes law. We’d rather feed all the king’s horses than set them free.

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