April 21st, 2014 -- Tax The Childless
It seems appropriate in the first full week since Americans had to file their annual income tax return that we pause and explore an old-is-new-again idea that is gaining steam in political and social circles; Tax those who don’t have children. And tax them A lot.
It is always fascinating for me to sit back and watch tyrants, morons and everyone in between justify how and why they should take more money away from hard other people. Contorting themselves into intellectual pretzels is only the start, usually, and this subject is no different. The premise is very basic; if you aren’t producing offspring, for whatever reason, whether it be career-minded-ambition, financial security or savings, physical/medical reasons or just good ‘ol choice, you should pay more, a lot more, in income tax so that you can better support those who made what is apparently the most altruistic choice of them all; to have a child (or 7).
As a childless man who hates the thought of having children, hates what most people become when they have children, and will never have any of his own as long as Roe Versus Wade remains the law of the land, it is easy to dismiss my position as being selfish and narrow-minded. But where’s the logic in that? If we’re going to exclude those who don’t have children from the debate, this is going to be a very quick discussion isn’t it? I suppose it’d be a lot easier to eliminate that pesky 2nd Amendment if we banned all gun owners from having a say in the argument, too, wouldn’t it?
It’s bigger than that. I’ll put aside my core Libertarianism, which demands almost no taxation, and argue on the merits why this idea, which has been floated countless times in our modern history (and won occasionally), is putrid. For starters, it furthers this notion that the parents of America are a better class of people, which few have the courage to refute. Simply crapping out a child does not make you special, nor, beyond basic biology, does it make you a parent. Any asshole can offer up their seed or womb and by the looks of things in this “circling the bowl,” nation of ours, plenty are doing so. Being an actual parent requires time, love, dedication, commitment, empathy, creativity, understanding and sacrifice and the argument that today’s American parent would offer any of that in exchange for more money from the rest of us is false on its’ face and everyone knows it. If we suddenly gave everyone with a rat kid an extra $1000 per year just for having children, they’d all run out and buy a new IPAD….for themselves. Yeah, that should improve the future generation, shouldn’t it? Watching dad sit on the can while he surfs porn with a bigger screen than the day before?
We’ve lived with this horrendous notion that parents deserve more of a break than anyone else for decades now, and we still refuse to acknowledge the truth. Parents get the breaks at the office when they need to take their kid to school, cut out early to attend a Little League Game or tend to a sick child at home. And who picks up their slack at work? The childless, usually, so let’s not pretend that there isn’t already a societal understanding of parents getting a little more.
And maybe that’s part of the problem here. Maybe the deeper root of all of this is that while parents are getting a little more, they’re angry about what they’re not getting. For the most part, our society still reveres parents and is voluntarily willing to cut them some slack and/or lend a helping hand. But you know what a lot of them really want? Our lives. Envy is a dirty emotion, and it feeds most American policy these days. We found out this week in the annual report that the top 20% of all income earners in America now pay 90% of all of the income taxes. That means that if you make a whopping $150,000 per year, you’re part of the upper 20% and you’re pulling the weight for 80% of the nation. And you know what they want to do? Take even more from you, because it’s not fair that you make that much, even though a family of four in Northern California or Northern Nevada hardly lives like royalty on such an amount. You have more than someone, and that makes people seething with rage. Thus, envy rears its’ ugly head as follows; multiple new polls show that most people list “the rich not paying enough in taxes” as one of their biggest concerns about the nation moving forward.
The other, perhaps more poignant thing that the childless have is freedom. Freedom to relax, travel, or just plain NOT do things now and then. That’s unacceptable, isn’t it? That a group of Americans have planned their lives out in a way to allow themselves the ability to do what they want, when they want? And since the easiest form of punishment we have at our disposal and the one which makes people feel as though they’re actually hurting those who have better lives than them is taxation, away we go! Let’s not dismiss, either, the endless surveys, studies and polls of the last decade showing enormous majorities of parents all saying the same basic thing; “I love my children, but I hate my life.” Parents in this country wish more and more that they could treat their children in the same vile way we allow this country to treat its pets. Once we realize how much work they are, what a burden they are, and how they tether us, to a certain extent, to a life we don’t want forever, we should just be able to drop them off at the pound or euthanize them. Since we can’t do that with kids, the resentment builds and a target is needed. God knows people of this culture aren’t going to look in the mirror to find someone to blame for their lot in life, so instead they look to the happy, young, well rested childless couple returning from their fourth trip away of the year and they say “that’s not fair…take that life away from them like ours was taken from us…”
Incidentally, the current movement gaining steam would dramatically increase the taxes of all childless people making as little as $51,000 per year. Congratulations to those barely getting by, you’ve made it! You’re now so successful that you get to join the rest of us who apparently have endless amounts of cash coming out of our ears to give to the government because we’re making so much of it and spending so little of it. I mean, gee whiz, anyone making $51,000 per year without a kid in the good ‘ol U.S. of A is clearly living like a king and should have to spread that wealth around from the lavish confines of their one bedroom apartment, driven there via their 1999 Honda Accord.
In the end, of course, no amount of logic or reason ever derails an irrational train. I’ve always said the same basic thing on this subject and nothing much has changed in 20 years. There’s a social pact that says that if you choose to buy a home in this country, you also accept the fact that your property tax dollars are going to go to the school system, regardless of whether or not you have children. Fine, whatever. No one HAS to buy property in America, it’s just the American Dream, that’s all, and if it comes with a few totalitarian demands, so be it. But for everyone else it seems so counter-productive and (at the risk of whining) patently unfair; but not just unfair to us, but to the unborn. If these scum furthering this movement truly cared about children, they would never utter such asinine policies as “tax the childless,” but therein lies the truth, doesn’t it? This isn’t about the kids. It’s about the envy factor we discussed earlier. Those who choose not to have children in this nation should be applauded and thanked (not that we want it), rather than demonized. Look around your nation and stop for a moment as you see countless kids and their parents who are just plain miserable. The truth of the matter is that there are far too many people having kids that should never breed as much as an ant farm at home, let alone a human family. Why not step back from the brink and acknowledge that those of us who recognize for whatever reason that kids in our lives would make the entire world a worse place are doing our part as well?
I’ve always given the Oprah answer; I never wanted kids because I knew I would resent them from day one…and worse, when it came down to it, I wouldn’t choose them. I’d choose my career, I’d choose my life, and I’d give them as little as I had to within the confines of the law. Does that sound like a guy who should be a father? Of course not. So why punish me and the ever growing ranks of people making the same calculus? Those of us who recognize that the country is stronger with us working, traveling, spreading our incomes around via commerce and not having children do not need to be thanked, but it would be nice if we weren’t maligned either. The jury remains out on who is most harming this wretched society, but the parents sure seem to have the upper hand. Have you been outside today? That’s usually all it takes…