Monday, July 18, 2005

Tax, Tax, Tax and More Tax

Sunday, July 17th. Santa Barbara, California.

Time to crash for a couple of days. I just got out of the pool at our hotel after swimming with my son and chatting with a couple from Austria. They are on vacation but he works for an Austrian multinational company with offices in Burlington, Ontario and somewhere in Quebec. What did we talk about, besides where we’re from and how beautiful California is? What else, taxes.

The income tax levels in most countries is beyond ridiculous. I decided years ago that I would slow down and smell the roses, not because I don’t love to work but because I hate to give over half of my income away to a bunch of incompetent boobs who will fritter it away on the insanity of the day. Why make more and more money? More tax revenue just encourages the politicians and bureaucrats to spend even more. Phooey on that!

I had an emotional moment yesterday, that was quite embarrassing for me. We had just completed a tour of Hearst Castle at San Simeon and, because I had forgotten to put a memory card into my digital camera after downloading a batch of photographs to my laptop, my wife suggested that we take another of the four tours available so I could take some pictures. I choked up and said that I would find the experience too depressing. Why, asked my son. Because, I said, I would never be able to match Hearst's achievement.

Sound silly? Maybe. I am not jealous of the super-rich. I don’t want the government to take some of their money and give it to me via some ill-founded income distribution program. I just want to be left alone to earn money and to keep most of it instead of having most of it taken away.

I would never build something like Hearst Castle for myself. It is self-indulgent, incoherent (too many styles and periods mixed together) and too cluttered. It’s not that I would want to build a mirror image of the place or anything like that. It is that I will likely never be able to buy thousands of acres of prime land, as William Randolph Hearst’s father did, on which to build the home of my dreams. There are many reasons why.

One reason is that vacant land located somewhere where I might actually wish to live is nearly impossible to find. The major reason, however, is that one’s home is built with after-tax dollars. A million dollar home (fairly cheap in California) would necessitate my earning $2,100,000 at my current marginal tax rate. Then, there is the matter of property tax. The bigger the property, the fancier the dwelling, the higher the property taxes. Who can afford the vast amount of money necessary or justify the expense?

Last winter, I had hoped to travel to Ecuador, Panama and Argentina to check out properties there, even if only to use part of the year. I couldn’t get away then, but hope to have better luck this year. That may be the way to go. Fewer rules. Cheaper prices. Fewer hands reaching into my pockets.

I am very grateful for having lived in Canada almost all of my life. I could have been stuck in some hell-hole somewhere. I just wish that politciians and the voters who elect them would realize that governments cannot do everything for everyone and then expect a few to pay for it all.

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