I’m as proud as the next guy of the paychecks I’ve received. My dad made a big issue of always making certain those paychecks were earned. In fact, he preached being worth a little more to your employer than you’re being paid.
Part of his reasoning was to ensure job security, but the bigger emphasis of his advice was focused on work ethic. I would like to believe my dad would approve of the way I’ve made a living over the years.
With that in mind, it bothers me that many people take what they can get out of the system without feeling compelled to earn it, even though they are quite capable of doing so. People close to me who have seen it first hand tell of grotesque abuses of social-assistance programs, often demanding services with no intention of making even a token co-payment to various forms of public assistance.
As a wage earner and taxpayer, that really burns me up. If I’ve gotta bust mine for what I’ve earned, I damn sure don’t want you to loaf your way onto the public dole at my expense. I’m persuaded that there are people who figure that as long as we’re going to give it to them, they might as well take it. I accept the sad concept that there are many abusers, and we will “never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” but I never knew it was 47 percent of the country! That’s enough to make me lose my lunch.
But while I’m recalling accounts of abuse, many of which involve folks gaming Medicaid, a few of the accounts involve a guy on his cell phone as he is driving his Range Rover to town from Telluride, demanding an appointment at his convenience when he gets to town and then being next to impossible to get to pay his bill — this in direct contrast to more than one account of a retired farm couple on a limited fixed income, diligently making regular monthly payments to meet their obligation. The sense of entitlement is not the exclusive domain of any one demographic.
That reminds me: I’ve run across the term “carried interest” in discussions of tax reform and potential loopholes eligible for closure. I get a couple of 1099-INT forms each tax season from savings account holders for enough earned interest to dine lavishly a couple of times at the fast food restaurant of your choice. But I’d never heard of the carried variety until this political season. So I did a little research.
The best explanation I found was at Forbes.com. I figured the folks at Forbes know this stuff as well as any. Here’s their description: “Carried interest is the 20 percent or so of profits that managers of private equity and hedge funds demand from their investors. In effect, it’s pay for their services, contingent on their results — kind of like a CEO’s bonus tied to a company’s results. But instead of being taxed like a bonus, at top ordinary income tax rates of 35 percent, plus Medicare payroll taxes, carried interest gets taxed as long-term capital gains, at a current top rate of just 15 percent. (To oversimplify: the carried interest share, when awarded, supposedly can’t be valued, and so the IRS lets the money managers elect to value it at zero and then have their future income taxed as if they were partners who had risked their own capital in the fund.)”
The liberal commentators I tend to follow keep claiming that income and wealth disparity have drastically increased in recent decades, in part because the tax system is rigged to favor the very wealthy. More than one expert source on the economy has raised this issue of carried interest as a tax-sheltering loophole, the kind of thing Paul Ryan has suggested eliminating in return for lowering the top marginal income tax rates. I’m anxious to learn more specifics about the loopholes on the block, but I am concerned that some feel entitled to those tax breaks, along with deductions for fees to their tax accountants and attorneys.
Dad always believed in the opportunity to do well as a result of hard work and initiative, but he also suggested that in order to make really big money, it helped a lot to have really big money.
Bruce Grigsby still doesn’t like subsidizing people who abuse the system.