Taxes and reality

TaxesA few things happened when we spent time in Tennessee recently.   When we went through the airport on the way out it was interesting to see how the TSA works in Knoxville. 

I believe the funding from the TSA is split among each state and if you don't use the cash you don't get it.  The place is chocked with TSA guards.  They are more hardcore than JFK.  When you check in you have to put your bag through the xray machines after they get checked in.  Then they are shipped off to the plane you are taking.  They have basically spent money on every possible security check there is.

Once you get to the other side, through security, there is a constant reel of someone announcing to be careful watching out for bags, etc.  I am not poo-pooing security but this is a pretty small airport and I'd love to know how much of our tax dollars are going towards this.  Call me crazy but I am not sure Knoxville is a hotbed for terrorism. 

Here is the one thing that truly stuck with me.  I went to get us some water bottles before boarding the plane.  The guy in front of me was buying at USA Today.  The cashier told him he did not need to stand in line and in the future he can just leave the $1 in the box by the paper-stand.  The patron said that he figured that it was $1.07 or $1.15 based on the tax.  The cashier said that down in Tennessee we don't tax this stuff like they tax everything in NY.  The patron said he will definitely then be returning to this part of the world.

When I went to pay my wallet opened up and he saw my drivers license.  He looked at me and said sorry about that I did not know you were from NY.  I told him it was fine as I couldn't be happier living there and being taxed.  What I really wanted to say is who do you think pays for the roads that you drove on to get to work today, who do you think is paying for all this security in the airport, who do you think is paying for many things that we all take for granted. 

Living in this country and being part of the community using the Post Office or driving on the roads costs money and we all should be paying our part to pay for it.  We were told when we were there that two of the major camping parks were closed due to lack of funds.  BTW, so should large corporations pay their fair amont of taxes but to me his comments struck a chord with me. 

Why don't we pass a job bill to rebuild our roads, rebuild our bridges, rebuild our schools etc as it will create more jobs and jobs are good for America.  Jobs also pay taxes which pay for the way we live.  I don't get the Americans that believe not paying taxes is a good thing and perhaps I just never will.

Comments (Archived):

  1. laurie kalmanson

    tennessee has sales tax on food, one of the most regressive taxes there is; the state also consistently ranks in the bottom 10 states in education; add in the animus against public education and the support for privately funded church based schools where creationism is taught instead of science and you get a statewide profile that is pretty much exactly the opposite of how to be ready for the future

  2. laurie kalmanson

    related: blue states give, red states take…The graphic says: “Of the 32 states which receive more than they contribute, 27 states (84%) are REPUBLICAN. Of the 18 states which contribute more than they receive, 14 states (78%) are DEMOCRATIC.”The source cited is a report by the Tax Foundation, a business-backed group. We checked with the Tax Foundation to see whether the data was legitimate and confirmed that it is. Spokesman Richard Morrison said that the chart uses 2005 data that was published in 2007.

    1. Gotham Gal

      interesting statistics. it costs money to run a state. to me, applauding no taxes is just irresponsible and ridiculous

      1. laurie kalmanson


      2. Harold Leggett

        You may have missed the point: the shop proprietor WILL pay the tax on that newspaper. The State will see to that. The cashier (the proprietor?) made a (southern) policy decision to not ask the customer to stand in line in order to fork over the tax, noting (correctly) that this does not happen north of the Mason-Dixon line, and certainly not in NYC. The proprietor is from the south, where inconveniencing a customer to pay taxes on a newspaper is a bit shameful and not a sign of being well-bred. In Knoxville and throughout the south, until recently, you were able to pump gas without prepaying. Gasp. Those dang rascally repubwicans …Again, remember, the tax IS paid – by the proprietor.

      3. Yaniv Tal

        hey is there any way you could delete my anonymous comment below and let me repost it? It breaks my heart to see it labeled “Guest”.It’s the one starting with “It’s mind boggling..”

    2. Guest

      It’s mind boggling to me that even though so many people know the system is broken, nobody’s willing to think about what a better alternative would be.This country’s going through a sort of “innovator’s dilemma” where we’re so afraid of losing our #1 position in the world that we continue a system that is so outdated is nearly tearing us apart. The American system of values I think is a great one but what we say and what we do are completely different things. If somebody asked me to design a way to efficiently distribute (tax) resources and I described our method of sending people to Washington, you’d call me an idiot and send me packing, yet this is what we do.Let me give you the cliff notes on what I think an ideal solution would look like:- A sophisticated software system at Facebook’s level of complexity for creating laws, voting, and choosing what we spend our tax dollars on- Distributed representation (~1% of the population working on governance while the rest works in the private sector)- Digital currency where monetary policy is engineered to further the public interest (for example, imagine if instead of giving your money to wall street to invest for you, you could deposit it in a public fund that could earn you a substantial interest while being put to use for the projects that a distributed representative democracy would vote for)- A public jobs board for connecting labor with employers + publicly funded training. Our welfare system needs to be overhauled so that everybody can afford food and shelter in exchange for public works. There is no shortage of useful work that can be performed even by people with low physical and/or mental ability. We just have to distribute our resources more efficiently.What is the biggest problem we face as a country? There are too many people afraid of losing jobs that in all honesty we don’t need and we have massive underemployment, all the while there are many worthwhile goals that we simply have no way to fund. Among them is: energy sustainability, high quality education, access to healthcare, better infrastructure, faster transportation, sustainable farming, space exploration.How is it that our resources are being so poorly allocated? Our system is designed to solve problems we no longer have and is being propped up by high net worth individuals with ties to: oil, banking, healthcare, military, etc.It blows my mind that so few people see this problem on a macro level and find it a challenge worth pursuing. If I’m able to achieve some level of success in my entrepreneurship I’m going to dedicate all of my money and all of my life to fleshing out these ideas and finding a way for our society to gradually and peacefully attain a higher level of coordination and quality of life.

      1. laurie kalmanson


        1. Yaniv Tal

          Somehow disqus stripped my identity on that post. I tried to delete it and repost it separately but that didn’t work.. too bad.

      2. ShanaC

        how would such software work

    3. pointsnfigures

      Meh, pure population. Very misleading stat.

  3. JLM

    .Please count me as an American with an aversion to paying taxes. They are too high.In the final analysis, it is the profligate spending and the enaction of a welfare state that drives the necessity for ever increasing levels of taxes which is the core of the problem.There is literally no level of taxation that is not being contemplated. At some point one must say “Ya Basta!” Enough.Individual taxes are well over 50%. Income, payroll, Obamacare, property, sales, excise, use, etc etc etcWe are literally working for the government and the government has the first call on our labor and wealth.Control spending — wasteful and unnecessary spending — and do something about entitlements and then talk to me about taxes.Taxes are complex with local sales, county property, ISD property, state, Federal taxes all being used for different things.One can take a look at California and Texas and see the different OUTCOMES derived from different philosophies of taxation and the difference in funding mechanisms for infrastructure, education and welfare.Our Nation was founded on the premise of a small, lean, nimble, agile Federal government among States that were “united” for the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. There was NO income tax.Now we have a bloated, redundant and confiscatory government — who apparently cannot be trusted to be fair and honest in any dealings related to taxes, BTW — which sees itself as being entitled to our income and wealth.US corporate taxes are the highest in the world and are a simple pass through conduit being incorporated in the COGS of every product or service. Consumers pay these taxes, not corporations.The Congress passed all these phony foreign tax credits and should be tasked with getting foreign held capital repatriated.JLM.

  4. laurie kalmanson

    People get what they pay forWestchester county ny has high property taxes high home values and excellent public schools

    1. pixiedust8

      But almost every other country (maybe every other country) does not pay for school with property taxes, because it’s so inequitable. Poor kids end up with bad schools because they were born to parents with less money. In the end, that doesn’t benefit the country.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        totally true; a complete change would be betterin the meantime, westchester is a haven for people who choose to and can afford to provide great public schoolsi grew up in new york city and went to the public schools when gifted and talented pretty much meant everyone who could read at grade level and was white and lived in a nice zip code. there was massive exclusion. i benefited, but so many who could have did not, and that is very very wrong.when i went through the nyc public schools, they were so crowded that they accelerated anyone who did halfway well and made middle schools two years for you instead of three, and called it Special Progress.i send my kid to private school because i can and because until every school is funded at the level her school is, that is what’s best for her, but every morning when i drop her off i ask why her school is the exception, for those who can provide it for their children, and not the minimum for all children

        1. pointsnfigures

          If you are paying taxes to some of the greatest public schools, why private?

  5. pixiedust8

    Could not agree more. Our infrastructure is so outdated, it’s laughable. When you look at how brief and infrequent power outages are in Europe compared to the US, that says a lot.On another vein, I’d love to see some billionaire start an incubator or foundation that focuses on clean energy/reducing carbon. It seems like a win-win: we jumpstart a new industry and all of us benefit.

  6. MogulAzam

    I lived in a number cities in different parts of the world. The best are the ones that spend on public infrastructure and where a community develops around spaces. Also, you can look around the world and see which countries are developing by the public infrastructure system in place starting from the airport and roads leading into the city center with public spaces.

  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Yes!I know the gov’t does a lot of stupid things with our money, but no one ever talks about the good things. They just enjoy them.We can’t get a jobs bill to rebuild our infrastructure because it wouldn’t benefit the military industrial complex, the banks, and other gargantuan interests who have our congress in their wallets.We have found ourselves in a situation where these entities who no longer pay *their* taxes get to determine how we spend ours.

    1. pointsnfigures

      We got a jobs bill in 2009. It’s a boondoggle. If you want to know what happens when you begin taxing too much, look at Detroit. Some of the highest taxes around, but people aren’t paying them (including property owners). They move, walk, ignore or cheat. Italy, same thing. Cheating the govt from taxes is a national pastime. It’s because they have too high a tax rate, and too much regulation over everything.

  8. digitalconsigliere

    As far as airport security, these airports are all part of the same system you don’t want to create a loophole where a hijackers could just fly from a small town airport where there is lax or no security – only to transfer to on a bigger flight going to a larger city after clearing security. also 911 hijackers did train to fly at smaller airports – so there is a reason for all this far as infrastructure most is paid by Federal gas tax. the last time the gas tax was raised was in 1993 by Clinton the next year Clinton was killed in mid term because he raised taxes on middle class (gas tax) and the Republicans took over congress for the first time in 40 years. So the political will to raise the gas tax is non existant

  9. ag

    Taxes. I couldn’t agree more. The idea that people shouldn’t support this country is crazy to me. When I was growing up, my mom lived in a beautiful neighborhood in NJ, where no one used the public school system, except for a poor segment of the town, which was totally separated geographically. I remember how at one point, one of our neighbors started a political campaign, proposing that the individuals who didn’t use the public school system should be able to use education taxes towards their private school expenses. (I don’t remember the details, and I’m sure it was more complicated than I’m suggesting, but…) I remember thinking, “how dare these people try to further ruin the education (education!!) of those who already have the short end of the stick–where’s the communal responsibility and concern for our future.” Somehow our mentality is messed up. But I also appoint some of the blame to the government, because if it was more open about how our taxes are being used, if we received an accounting and got results–in the school system, on roads, subways, airports etc.,–maybe, I’m hoping, people would be more supportive. Every time I’m on the subway in this great city, I think about how very wrong something must be.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Not paying for education is absurd. Just to keep the quality of life for everyone and someone not mugging you because they can’t get a job

      1. laurie kalmanson

        totally agreepay for schools or pay for prisons but not paying is not an option and the former is better for everyone than the latterproperty tax funded education totally does keep poor schools poor and rich schools rich; there needs to be a better way — geography shouldn’t be destiny

    2. ShanaC

      that happened in my district – and it is happening in the monroe district in upstate ny currently

  10. leslie

    Unfortunately very little will change until the eligible voting public adopt the attitude that they hold the key.We still call this a Democracy but we, (the voting public), remain faithfully strident believing we have done all we can do by casting our vote, and listening to our requisite 20 minutes of news a day. I have one question, if someone works for you, have you got their number in your phone? Okay , it was rhetorical , of course you do! How many of us have our Senators, and our Congressional representatives numbers in our phones??? Ask yourself why the hell not?! If not us, who? If not now, when?

  11. Ann

    I just bought a newspaper at Heathrow Airport last week and the cashier told me I did not need to wait in line, I could have just put my 2 pound sterling in the honor box near the newspaper stand. Coffee shops here in CA often let you buy serve yourself coffee and leave the money in an honor cup. Makes sense for simple orders and most people are honest.

  12. BillMcNeely

    If we got the ROI on our tax dollars that Dubai got on their MENA Infrastructure Fund Dirhams that they spent to improve thier highway, rail and airports I don’t think any of us would complain.

  13. pointsnfigures

    We passed a stimulus bill in 2009. We got nothing.…Most of the education spending in the US doesn’t go to the classroom, but the bureaucracy. When looking at other govt organizations, you find the same phenomena.What works best is local standards. One size fits all does’t work. Clearly, NYC is different than Knoxville, and so the same things cannot work in each place. Yet, the federal govt mandates apply to both places.We need a much much smaller federal government. That will leave more money left over for state and local govts to build things local people need.

  14. llorberb

    This article made me smile.I am from Chattanooga, Tennessee and now live in NYC.The Chattanooga airport is by far and away one of the more stringent airports I have been in. But with that they are extremely nice and accommodating. I once had a TSA agent run down to my gate to ensure I made my flight. There are only about 8 gates in the whole airport. Love small town America.Ironically, the sales tax in Tennessee is higher than in New York, but TN has NO state income tax. The TN state sales tax is 7% and then local on average is 2.44%, for a total of 9.44%. NY for comparison has a 4% state sales tax and then local on average is 4.48%, for a total of 8.48%.Maybe its my southern roots, but I generally oppose tax increases . My general belief is that although the government does absolutely wonderful and necessary things for this country. But it does not use tax dollars efficiently. It is terrible at running “lean” and making the hard choices needed to direct money where resources are needed most. I am happy to contribute, but like everything in life there is a balance that needs to be struck (read… please don’t raise taxes in NYC, the “rent is too damn high”).

    1. Gotham Gal

      no doubt Government is not a lean machine but it is better than most.