By David L. Kelly
23 November 2010
As our economy collapsed and news reporters began to compare the current financial duress to the Great Depression, I thought of all the people living today who had lived through those worst of times. I thought of the irony: these same people are now faced with the same uncertainty that they had to struggle with when they were just beginning their lives. It is as if they have come full circle in life’s journey. Although many things have changed, some remain the same: our government is still selling us the same old bag of rotten goods full of promises of a better future at our expense.
President Roosevelt’s New Deal caused quite a stir and raised a multitude of legal issues that questioned the constitutionality of FDR’s programs. One program we all know quite well was the Social Security Act passed in 1935. This act built the framework for various pensions as well as welfare. FDR insisted that the program be funded by payroll taxes and not the general fund. He said, “We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.”
The original payroll tax was one percent of a workers gross income. Roosevelt pledged the tax would never exceed three percent. Today, Social Security withholding is at 6.2 percent and 12.4 percent for self-employed workers—one sixth of a worker’s lifetime earnings when Medicare is factored in. If you’re not lucky enough to reach retirement age to collect your promised benefits, your estate is not entitled to a dime. I know this quite well, as my father passed away at the young age of 52, paying into Social Security his entire working life. Not one penny or even a sympathy card came our way.
I went to my local Social Security Administration office and spent a few moments seeking answers as to why my father’s estate was to be left high and dry with our government stealing his forced contributions. I was told, “I’m sorry for your loss, but the law is clear. See these people in this office, waiting to be helped? That’s where your father’s money is going. I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
My dad was a wise man. He told me never to trust your government and always to question authority. He hit that nail on the head.
It wasn’t until 1943 before the payroll tax was paid through withholding taxes. Before then, you paid the payroll tax when you filed your income tax return. The withholding tax on wages is a practice that many of us accept as business as usual, and as our part in being good Americans. Our government officials want us to believe that they’re good stewards of our monies and that they know what’s best for us and our nation.
I say hogwash!
I respectfully ask that you all contact your congressional representatives and ask them to pass new legislation that abolishes the withholding tax laws on our earnings. It is time for us to be responsible citizens in our contract with our government. We need truly to see how much our government takes from us and what we get in return. It may be painful when you write that check in April to the IRS for that tax year’s payroll contributions, but it will open your eyes to how much money the feds suck out of us like a parasite. With your eyes open, I guarantee you will be watching your elected officials and letting them know it is our money they’re spending. Our relationship with our government should be one of mutual agreement, not one of false promises and hope for a better tomorrow built on the backs of us and our future descendents.
If we could only learn from the past and hold our government accountable, then we will have made progress to a better future and not come merely full circle where we began.