Americans hate taxes. It’s not a right or left issue. It’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s not an old or young issue. It’s strangely not even a rich or poor issue. It’s an American issue. It’s our biggest peeve. We all agree on some level: Our country is great but we feel very cranky about forking over our money to the government.
This is an odd character trait in Americans. For example we happily pay for cable even though television is free – we clearly have no problem signing up for more bills.
The average American credit card debt is around $10,000 and the average APR is 14%. We clearly have no problem doling out loads of cash with nothing to show for it.
We don’t even pay out that much of our income to the government when compared to other industrialized nations. For an average family with children we pay about 20% of our income to taxes. For singles it’s 37%. Belgians pay close to 55%
But Americans hate taxes and we always have. We hate the idea of them. We want to believe freedom and taxes absolutely contradict each other. Like improv and comedy.
While other colonies of Great Britain simply asked for their independence (i.e. Canada and Australia), Americans were so outraged about the King raising taxes we started a bloody and costly revolutionary war lasting nearly a decade.
Yes, it all started with a tax hike. “No more taxes!” is the original battle cry for Americans. Our country’s birth, in a way, was a giant scheme to get out of giving up a fraction of our salaries to bureaucrats.
We just despise taxes.
Taxes are so loathed by Americans, politicians have to come up with new phrases in order to talk about them. That’s why “fees”, “tariffs” and “tolls” are used to “balance deficits.” Instead of just saying taxes are needed to fund the government. It’s an attempt to make it palatable to American sensibilities. This prettier word tactic is combated by calling anything you disagree with the ominous “hidden tax.” A hidden tax is something lurking in the bushes that can jump out and kill you. Very scary.
Notorious tax-phobe Grover Norquist requests conservative candidates sign his heavy-handed pledge to not raise taxes. He wants them to be like 1981’s tax-cutter President Ronald Reagan. Sure Reagan raised taxes for the next six years in a row (including the biggest tax increase in American history) but for the people who want like him and celebrate him, like Norquist, it’s never ever referred to.
For politicians raising taxes is a taboo. It’s an unmentionable.
So when Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn proposed taxing medical marijuana clinics in the city, you’d think there would be fury. You’d think there would be an uproar. You’d think there would be fist shaking and protests. “No more taxes!” You’d expect people to show up to City Council meetings dressed up like Paul Revere with picket signs of Hahn looking like Hitler or Chairman Mao. You’d expect bags of Lipton to be mailed to her. You’d expect someone to be upset – after all this is America!
But no one was upset. Not the ones who would pay the tax. Not at all, according to Hahn. “I’ve heard support across the board for taxing medical marijuana,” she tells Kush LA.
The proposed medical marijuana tax is almost like a sin tax. A sin tax is what the government puts on things like gambling, booze or tobacco. It’s supposed to somehow discourage people from doing it because taxes are just that revolting to people. A sin tax is punitive. It’s monetary punishment for being a sinner. It’s quite literally “hell to pay.”
But a sin tax on medicine? (Could someone possibly use medical marijuana recreationally? Yes, it’s possible. Not like Viagra has ever been used recreationally…)
A sin tax on medicine and no one is angry? No one? Really?!
Could pot smokers be the only group in the history of the world to ever want to be taxed? To ever hope to be taxed? To ever specifically ask the government to tax them more?
“I can’t remember the last time an interest group volunteered to be taxed,” admitted Hahn.
This might be a first. This is historic. A group of Americans are lobbying the government so they can give more money to the government in the form of a tax.
There are volumes of political theory that have just been challenged. We’re witnessing history here.
Someone notify the media.