Everyone loves to hate taxes

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There is much that people are unhappy with in the current political environment. Politics is a messy subject in modern days. But honestly and unfortunately, it has been this way for many generations. George Washington imagined a nation without political parties, one where the government answers to the people. Somehow, things didn’t work out quite as he had imagined.

While there are plenty of things that people complain about these days when it comes to the government, often rightly, there is one thing that everyone enjoys complaining about: taxes. More exactly, the populace’s hatred of taxes. Anyone who spends any real amount of time in the American school system knows about the Boston Tea Party, fueled by anger over taxes. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-’94 lead to chaos and divisiveness in the United States. In modern days, the proper use of taxes and whether to cut taxes and cut government aid, or raise taxes and add to government aid programs is a tough question that divides the Democrats and the Republicans.

There was good news on taxes December 30, 1921. Under a headline blaring “MANY TAXES TO BE WITHDRAWN JANUARY FIRST,” the News did a detailed report. “Will Mean Reduction in Railroad and Express Shipments and Pullman Car Fares MANUFACTURERS WILL PAY ON SOME PRODUCTS thus the Burden Will Still Fall on the Public so Far as These Items are Concerned.

Removal of all federal taxes beginning January 1 from railroad fares, ice cream, luxuries and other so-called nuisance levies will save consumers throughout the United Slates about $500,000,000 a year, it is estimated on the basis of returns to the Internal Revenue bureau. Removal of the nuisance taxes is provided for in the revenue law of 1921, just passed, which repeals and mollifies in innumerable instances the much complained of levies in the revenue law of 1918. Passed to finance the great cost of the war, the 1918 law was aimed to take from the consumers 10 per cent each year on luxury and transportation expenditures totaling more than $5,000,000,000.

Under the new law the consumer will be relieved of direct taxation at a rate ranging from $2 to $4 for each person in the United States. No more extra charges under the war tax legislation will be made by the merchant when selling goods. The tax on all these articles has been completely removed by the new law in so far as the additional “penny” payments are concerned.

The Government, however, does not stand to lose much under the new law. Most of the articles taxed under the old law are still taxed under the new law. After January 1, however, the tax will be paid in most instances by the manufacturer. That means, Government economists point out, that in the long run the consumer will pay just the same. But the payment will be made indirectly. The tax will be added into the selling price of the article by the manufacturer. Indirect taxes always are multiplied before they reach the conBurner, it is pointed out.

In 1950, the Second World War had been over for about four years. During the War, one of the worst in all of history, some goods and materials were rationed, in an attempt to save these materials for the soldiers fighting overseas and the military defenses. Four years after the end of the war however, the heavy taxes placed on travel, through taxes on gasoline and, through other methods when gasoline was not used, such as on railroads, still remained.

“‘Is this trip necessary?’ you were asked in 1941, when every inch of space was needed for troops and war supplies.

To discourage travel then, a tax was added on your travel dollar, a tax which grew to 15% during the war. The Federal Government collected it through the railroads. The Government still collects it, though your travel need not be rationed now.

Today, the original purpose of this tax is as obsolete as an Air Warden’s helmet. But, four years after the war’s end, YOU are still paying the Government at the rate of $250,000,000 a year in travel tax.

And, of the billion and three quarters collected since 1941, over half came out of your pocket after the green light on travel went on again…

This tax should be repealed NOW. There is no longer any reason you should pay $1.15 for every dollar’s worth of travel…$1.03 for every dollar of railroad freight” (February 3, 1950, page 5 “Why Should a Dollar’s Worth of Travel Continued to Cost You $1.15?”).

It seems politics and the way it is portrayed has changed very little since 1960. Richard Nixon is probably history’s most infamous president. In 1960, the Catskill Mountain News then considered a very Republican paper, printed a side-by-side comparison of Richard Nixon’s self-contradiction.

“There are two sides to every question. As the following statements show, on almost every question, Richard M. Nixon has been on both sides…

One how to cut taxes?

‘The time has come to relieve the overburdened taxpayer, particularly in the lower income brackets, through reduced federal expenditure, and lower tax rates’ [1946 Congressional Campaign]

‘Any tax legislation should be shaped to stimulate investment, reduce some excise rates and cut higher-brackets income taxes’ [said 1960]” (November 4, 1960, page 11).

Taxes have long been a major motivating factor in politics. Often, people vote based on their wallets, and thus many GOP politicians like to promise lower taxes as a reason to vote from them. Just as in the pre-revolutionary days, taxes can motivate a political movement.

“Money makes the world go round” is a expression, and a rather grim one. However, as much as we hope that people care about more than just money, for a lot of people “hitting ‘em where it hurts’ means hitting them in the wallet. Therefore, it is of little surprise that people reacted strongly to any occasion where they may lose money. Thus, taxes are always something that can be counted on to create a stir in politics or social circles. As if a stir-up is needed these days.

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