This column is in response to three recent community issues the Standard-Examiner is covering. They are: a stance for more taxes to pay for education ("Education requires more taxes" June 2 Our View); the bond to upgrade our library system; and the proposed property tax increase to maintain Ben Lomond and Ogden High Schools' swimming pools.
I was born, raised, educated in Ogden. At 52, I certainly appreciate the value of a good education, the importance of a good library system and recreation activities. Regarding the pools in particular, I believe everyone should learn how to swim. These resources are a valuable asset to any community and are certainly recognized by myself as factors that have proven invaluable in my life.
I do not mean to offend any one but here I go: Currently I am paying approximately 60 percent of my income in taxes. (I am not even close to a six-figure income) I do not mind at all contributing to the community and giving back. Between federal and state income tax, property tax, sales tax, gasoline tax, tax on investments, tax on savings account income, sales tax, gas tax, sin taxes, excise tax on the phone, the cable bill, the gas bill, the electric bill, car registration, motorcycle registration, etc., it is no wonder that many people who could choose not to work or grow their businesses.
I asked my uncle, George Handy, what his percentage of taxes paid were when he was my age and his answer was they were negligible and people did not notice them. He is 92, so 40 years later they have gone from negligible to ... let's say almost criminal. At what point should the money we as citizens earn remain ours? Should we be allowed to keep at least 40 percent of our income to try and support our families with zero government assistance? Will my grandchild be expected to give everything he makes for tax or will he get to keep at least 10 percent of his income?
Many of us have no problem paying taxes, but it is infuriating when we see the waste, abuse and fraud that goes on. Recently, several stores were caught engaging in food stamp fraud. What happened to the people that were fraudulently selling them? Hmm! How about dubious expenditures such as bike lanes, Bearcats, the trolley study, cameras in all the schools and the domestic spy center we now have? What about ecessive retirement packages and pay for many public officials who do not turn a profit but find numerous ways to spend our money on study after study, and don't forget the lawsuits we all pay for? The facility I work out of is more than 100 years old and we provide a return on investment to our shareholders. There are several ways we make a profit. Good management requires, efficiency, accountability and sustainability.
Even more criminal are people who are perfectly capable and should share in the tax burden, but would rather be societal leeches instead of being required to work for benefits they receive. Again, I have no problem helping those who truly need help, However, I am sick and tired of seeing people abusing benefits and loopholes and driving nicer cars than many of us, who support them, can afford.
I did not list my Social Security tax or Medicare taxes above. The reason is these are not entitlement programs unless you are drawing money without ever paying into them. Unfortunately these programs are also abused.
Until our public servants, elected, appointed and even hourly employees, on the federal, state and local level start meeting their fiduciary obligation to the taxpayers and take the stewardship of our money seriously by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, while at the same time insuring that every person, company, and institution pay their fair share of taxes, my vote will always be no to any tax increase and yours should be to! With 60 percent of my money being taken in tax and the majority of it squandered, I personally cannot afford higher taxes for any reason. What percentage of your income do you pay?
By voting no on any proposed tax increases in the future no matter how great the perceived need, perhaps our leaders will recognize they have to make tough business decisions such as choosing education and pools over Bearcats and cameras.
To those who have no problem paying higher taxes, might I suggest that you make a donation to the entities you wish to support. As a manager with profit and loss responsibilities, I can assure you that many entities claiming to be underfunded are actually bloated, and that leadership/management is choosing to spend dollars in the wrong areas and not using their resources wisely.
I encourage others to help send this message by voting no on the proposed bond and tax increases.
Stine, a motorcycle rights activist, lives in Ogden.