What We Can Do About Our Beastly Government

Some big news this week is that we pay more for taxes than for food and clothing. This is not surprising, and has been going on for quite a while. The fact is that most people are so busy trying to make ends meet that they don’t have time to stop and think why life is so hard, or what is to blame.

It’s interesting that this article, based on information from the BLS, doesn’t mention health insurance. People are literally paying thousands a year for health insurance, even if they’re fortunate enough not to have to use it. Since we’re being forced to do it, I wonder if it’s included in the totals for tax? I recently read a comment someone made to the effect that their health insurance payment is higher than their mortgage payment. I believe that, but how sad is it when a country forces its people to buy something they may not need, and at a higher monthly charge than what they pay for their housing?

Something has to change. Aside from revolution, which is being talked about in various corners of the Internet, is there a peaceful way to solve this problem? We try voting in new people who want to effect change, but something happens to them once they’re in power and they become even bigger spenders than those they replaced.

What else can be done? I think we have to stop financially supporting the government. No, I don’t mean tax evasion.  I mean tax avoidance. Make less money so you pay less in taxes.

Many people think this can’t be done. They have no concept of how they would live without making a certain level of income. But you can live on far less than you think you can, with a little ingenuity and forethought. In fact, there are people who live in this country who pay very little taxes…and they’re not on government assistance, either.

Some people call this starving the beast. I think there are all kinds of beasts that need to be starved (government is at the top of the list). When you stop giving money to groups who are hurting you or making it harder for you to exist, you feel better and life starts becoming easier again.

It feels like we have so little power to change things in this world; truly, we can only change our own behavior. But when we do only that, it’s amazing what can happen.

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Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

A young relative recently expressed frustration to me about a gathering of friends she attended.

It appears that the other young women were discussing an expensive children’s clothing company that is in vogue right now; $60 dresses for little girls is the standard in their line. Then they began talking about women’s clothes and how easy it is to spend $500 or $600 a month just to look nice.

My relative and her husband are working toward becoming debt-free, but her decision to be a stay-at-home mom and the medical bills her family faced from their first child’s birth (their medical insurance didn’t cover all of it) have made it especially challenging to live on one income.

“We were sitting in this nice big house, and the couple who live there said it’s not big enough and they’re getting ready to buy another one. They’re our age! How do they do it?” she asked.

Being a bit older (ahem) and more experienced, I told her that things may not be what they seem. There’s the obvious answer, of course: that their friends have racked up credit card debt and mortgage debt and haven’t reached their limit yet, so they just keep piling it on.

But there’s another obvious-to-me answer: that many young people get a lot of help from their parents these days. Some families routinely finance their adult children so they can maintain the lifestyle to which they (and their parents) have been accustomed.

In their seminal book The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley and William Danko called this “economic outpatient care.” These young people can live quite well with their parents’ monthly assistance. It’s not until their parents run out of cash or die that the gravy train ends and the young people end up the proverbial creek without a paddle, unless their folks were independently wealthy and left them a nice chunk of change (which they’ll probably burn through before long).

So the young families who don’t get economic outpatient care from their parents are left to look at their peers who do (but don’t advertise the fact) and wonder why they’re doing so much better. The answer, of course, is that it’s all smoke and mirrors. Mummy and Daddy are financing the lifestyle, and probably calling a lot of the shots, too, because, as a wise person once said, “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”

My young relative is fairly independent-minded; even if her parents could afford to float her a few grand every month, I doubt that she would like having them tell her what to do. Once she becomes debt-free, she and her spouse will enjoy calling their own shots, I’m sure. But in the meantime, if they can keep their eyes on their goal of financial freedom and avoid the green-eyed monster whenever it rears its ugly head, as it did at their friends’ house, they’ll be on their way to a much better life than their friends who are so dependent on their parents.