Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow doesn't stop the civil religion, nor taxes...

Austin, being in Texas, doesn't tend to get much snow or ice. This year, however, was that rare exception to the rule. We had snow; we had ice. Correction: we HAVE snow and ice. People here don't really know how to cope with all of it, and of course the government hasn't a clue either. So everything shuts down! The first two days of classes have been canceled! It's been pretty fun here - playing games, reading books, watching the governor's inauguration, and doing taxes.

Speaking of the glorious governor - he was inducted into office yesterday, despite most of the city taking a day off. I guess he just couldn't wait to get back into power. I am becoming more aware of how the "state" is only a few steps away from being an actual religion. Perry and Dewhurst took credit for an outright MIRACLE during their speeches: that they now have a grand budget surplus despite the fact that Perry presided over the largest spending increase in Texas history and he cut everybody's taxes! Look at the budget numbers, people, they are all up online! How do you compute your numbers sir, because they don't add up.

So while the governor continues his hollow rhetoric, let me run a few other numbers for you. I'm going to do this with round numbers off the top of my head and a calculator, so I'm sure that I will be off but at least in the ballpark.

Ever wondered how much time and money are lost through federal tax returns? Consider that I, a fairly low-income citizen, have spent nearly 8 hours thus far on my taxes. This includes going to the store to buy Turbotax, organizing all my stuff, making calculations, typing, figuring out where things go - and I'm not even done yet.

Let's estimate that of the roughly 250 million people in the USA, about half of them work and do tax returns, roughly 125 million.

Consider, then, that almost 125 million work or free days have been lost due to tax preparation. If the average person's time is worth $10 per hour, or $80 per day, that's roughly $12 billion in lost productivity.

That's a pretty large number, but in reality I'm just scratching the surface. I can't even begin to imagine how the number increases when you add in purchases of tax software, purchases of tax services, and the expenditures of the IRS in processing and auditing. I think it's probably safe to say that we are talking about a 10's-of-billions-of-dollars industry of nothing but waste. Of course, that's the function of the "state" in a nutshell - plus injustice, rights abuse, death, and destruction of private property.

Note: I'm not saying you shouldn't do your taxes, because any money the Federal government doesn't get is great and you don't want to go to jail. I just want to point out that taxes are disastrous to prosperity in a multitude of ways...