How much does your family spend at Walmart each month? Two, three hundred dollars? Let’s call it $3,000 a year, on average.
Now imagine Walmart has the power to simply deduct that amount from your paycheck, in monthly or weekly increments. Then, at the end of the year, they figure out how much you actually spent and, depending on whether you went over or under, issue a “refund” or demand that you pay the balance — or risk jail.
That’s pretty much how our relationship with the federal government works. They take income taxes out of our paychecks, then decide how much, if any, we get back.
As a result, most people don’t even notice they’re paying taxes. They never had the money to begin with, so it they don’t notice it’s gone. They even think, when they receive a “refund” because they’ve been overpaying all year, that they’re actually getting something from the government.
And because most people don’t realize they’re footing the bill, they don’t pay much attention to how Washington spends their money — in many cases, on things they would never spend their own money on, given the choice.
That’s a good deal for the politicians in D.C., because they basically have carte blanche. But it’s a very bad deal for the rest of us.
That’s why I’ve always believed that, if we ever want to reform Washington, we have to end automatic withholding. If every family in America had to write a check to the federal government every April, 90 percent of the nonsense going on in the nation’s capital would end overnight.
I’m one of those Americans who do have to write a check — and this year it was a pretty large check, if you want to know. More than I spend at Walmart in a year, I can tell you that.
I’m hardly a “one-percenter.” I’m not even a 20-percenter. Heck, I’m probably just barely a 30-percenter. I’m just a guy with a day job who freelances on the side to try to provide a better life for my family. As a result, I get taxed on that “self-employment” income at roughly twice the normal rate.
I know. I shouldn’t complain. Look at all the things my check might pay for!
• One night in the Presidential Suite at the Beijing Westin for Michelle Obama, her mother, and her two daughters.
• 200 rounds of golf for President Obama at his favorite course in Hawaii.
• Two months’ worth of free birth control pills for the entire female student body of Georgetown University Law School, Sandra Fluke’s alma mater.
• Eighteen thousand rounds of 5.62 rifle ammunition for the Department of Homeland Security.
• A 6 percent raise for one member of the House of Representatives.
As a patriotic American, I suppose I should feel honored to do my part. But somehow, I think I’d rather be spending that money at Walmart.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less and on Amazon. Email Rob at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @FamilyManRob.