Free for another year

I bet you missed it. I will bet my entire tax refund that a majority of Idahoans completely failed to celebrate our own, private state holiday. Okay really we share the holiday with Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and Alaska, but I would make the same bet with the residents of those states.

Before you come knocking on my door looking to collect remember I said the majority of state residents, not just you as an individual.

However, I would guess you went to work, just like I did, just like it was any other day. That is except for a few avid golfers I know that took “Friday” to be a perfectly legitimate excuse to go to the course, but even they did not really know what they were celebrating.

It was fairly obvious by the lack of fireworks, mattress sales and barbecues that this is the most under-celebrated holiday in the history of holidays.

Friday, April 11, was Tax Freedom Day for Idaho, Alaska, Oklahoma Missouri and Arizona. According to www.taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday that was the day, since Jan. 1, residents of those states have worked enough hours to pay for their local, state and federal tax liability.

Congratulations citizen, the rest of the year is yours.

Every state has a Tax Freedom Day each year and we are not the first of 2014. That honor goes to Louisiana which reached tax independence on Sunday, March 30. We are also not the last. New Jersey and Connecticut residents will have to work until Friday, May 9, before being set loose.

We all accept the reality that, individually, we will be working all year to cover our tax bill. The premise of the Tax Foundation’s statement is that if you were able to put every penny you have earned since New Year’s Day into the bank it would have taken you this long to fulfill you obligation as a member of our society.

Should Tax Freedom Day be a celebration of our achievement of collectively doing our part? Should it be a mournful remembrance that it has taken such a big chunk of the year to meet that goal? Those are questions better left to the revelers of each state.

What I did find even more interesting than the Idaho Tax Freedom Day is another part of the report on www.taxfoudation.org is that our responsibility to the various governments we live under is now greater than our obligation to ourselves.

According to the website, Americans will spend about $4.25 trillion on housing, food and clothing this year, but we will spend over $4.5 trillion on state, local and federal taxes. The federal tax burden is larger by itself than clothing and food combined. Americans will spend just over $2 trillion on clothing and food this coming year while the amount paid in federal taxes alone will be about $3 trillion.

Most people seem to have a particular tax they despise more than the other types. Some people hate property taxes, while others are predominately mad about sales taxes, while still others are up in arms about the personal property taxes on business. At the end of the day, however, I believe most Americans are like me in that we view a certain amount of taxes as necessary. We don’t do cartwheels on April 15, but at the same time we appreciate the fact we drove on a paved road to get to the post office to mail our tax documents.

I don’t have a “pet tax” that I dislike more than another, but if this study by the Tax Foundation is correct I do have a philosophical problem.

Paying more to the government than what we pay to personally subsist, is to me, a failing of the American Dream.

It is common to hear the American Dream defined by a specific goal; self-employment, home ownership or a new car. If you break any of those things down what people are really saying is the American Dream is self-reliance.

Don’t get the idea that I am about to run away from town, build a cabin in the woods and try to live off-the-grid. I like reliable electricity and indoor plumbing too much to do something like that.

What I am saying is we all want to have access to the means to accomplish our goals on our own. We want to have the freedom and ability to access the resources to start our own business, buy a car or home without begging for permission too many times.

To that end it is important to be able to clothe, feed and shelter ourselves. If we are hindered in our pursuit of these basic needs we cannot focus on larger concepts like entrepreneurship.

The new trend in bureaucratic politics is to say “government is too big,” but those trumpeting this concept of too much government are hard pressed to draw a line in the sand differentiating between enough or necessary amounts of government and too much or too big of a government.

There is something inherently wrong with a government that has such demanding needs it eclipses the basic needs of the people being governed.

For the “government is too big” crowd that is struggling to find a cut-off point, I suggest this one. If we are paying more for government than we are paying for shirts, apartments and milk, government has gotten too big.

We should always value the American Dream in all of its definitions, but we should adopt the “Goldilocks” principle as our bare minimum criterion for evaluating that goal. Having the amount we spend on government should be no more than equal to what we pay for shoes, roofs and milk. Then everything would be “just right.”

Until that day comes I guess it is comforting to know they need us more than we need them.

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