For years the insurance industry fought having to write their policies in simple declarative English. Why? Because if they did policy holders could then understand them. It would be nice if the United States Congress forced themselves to do the same about bills. But they haven’t, so we are now all consumed with the 400 page so-called tax reform bill, which much of the House of Representatives admits it doesn’t understand, in part because they haven’t been allowed to read it yet. So where does that leave dummies like us?
Many complicated things at their heart can be simplified. All one needs to do is turn off the talking heads attempting to explain things, take our own counsel, and ask ourselves a few simple questions. The first is will this bill help or hurt me? The second is will this bill accomplish its major goals? Finally, if you have any time and strength left, is it good for the country? A hint: if if you’re not wealthy and determine it isn’t good for you, it likely is not good for the country. That’s not politics, that’s common sense.
So how does one set about answering these questions? The first, and most important question, selfish though it might sound, is the easiest. It isn’t selfish. Why? Because it has to do with the ability to run a household, feed a family, pay the bills, and create a better future for your children than your parents left for you. It’s a quality of life question.
To get the answer take your last five years of tax returns either to your accountant, if you have one, or to a reputable CPA (check references). Make an appointment and be prepared to spend a little money. If money is a problem, you can go to an H & R Block type firm. There are even community organizations that do tax work for free. Call your city or county administration offices. Realize that if this bill passes and impacts you negatively it will cost you a great deal more than the professional opinion and therefore is money well invested. Hand over the returns and say, “I’ll be back next week. Please be prepared to tell me the tax consequences of the current bill on my family’s finances and why.” When you have the answer call or write your Congressional representative and tell him/her how you think they should vote and what the consequences will be if they don’t vote that way.
What is this bill supposed to accomplish? I’ll give you my take on the theory, but really you can go to your computer and ask Google the question. You’ll get a variety of articles that you can read that will give you a sense of its major goals. To me they are: 1) adding money to the middle class 2) lowering the corporate tax rate so that companies will have more money to spend on job creation. 3) Returning to America trillions of dollars banked over seas in countries where taxes are lower thus positively jolting the economy into a frenzy of productivity with all this usable money. This will increase hiring. Because the demand for workers will be high salaries will go up, with salaries going up spending will increase, as spending increases the demand for goods and services does as well which means industry has to add more production capacity, which means more workers… and the economic-merry-go-round spins happily along.
The point is to think. Discuss it with yourself. The founders of this country believed that given the information the “common” man would be able come up with the right answer to most problems that impacted him and his family. That would be you and me they were thinking about.
Finally is it good for the country? The answer to that is inexorably tied up to whether you determine if the bill is good for you and your family and if it is in your opinion likely to meet its goals. There are a number of givens. One is that big or small the government needs to be paid for. Big or small there is a moral obligation to take care of those in need because of age or infirmity. There are way too many loopholes and the rampant influence of lobbyists keeping them from being closed must be dealt with. There will always be inequities in the distribution of wealth, and frankly, there should be because some people work harder than others, some people are smarter than others. and, well, that’s life folks. The question is at what point do you think the inequities are too inequitable and so inequitable that they will begin to erode the social fabric of our nation?
Since this bill is targeted for a vote around Thanksgiving you have a few weeks to make your determinations and then act to back them up. In this writing I will leave all that to you. In another, I will express my own opinion. In the meantime I hope this isn’t too taxing on you…
Meet you next week!
If this essay makes you think, or smile, or groan you might want to follow it weekly just to check your intellectual pulse. You might also enjoy, “Mirth, Wind and Ire” a book of social and political commentaries with a little humor thrown in available as http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/692523