Americans hate taxes. It's not a Right or Left issue. It's not a Democratic or Republican issue. It's not an old or young issue. It's strangely not even a rich or poor issue. It's an American issue. It's our biggest peeve. We all agree on some level: Our country is great, but we feel very cranky about forking over our money to the government.
This is an odd character trait in Americans. For example, we happily pay for cable even though television is free -- we clearly have no problem signing up for more bills. The average American credit card debt is around $10,000 and the average APR is 14 percent. We clearly have no problem doling out loads of cash with nothing to show for it. We don't even pay out that much of our income to the government when compared with other industrialized nations. An average family with children pays about 20 percent of their income to taxes. For singles, it's 37 percent. Belgians pay close to 55 percent.
But Americans hate taxes. We always have. We hate even the idea of them. We want to believe freedom and taxes absolutely contradict one other. Like improv and comedy. Other colonies of Great Britain (e.g., Canada and Australia) simply asked for their independence. But not us. Americans were so outraged about the King's raising taxes we started a costly and bloody revolutionary war lasting nearly a decade. Yes, it all started with a tax hike. "No more taxes!" is the original American battle cry. In a way, our country's birth was a giant scheme to avoid giving up a fraction of our salaries to bureaucrats.
Taxes are so loathed by Americans that politicians have to come up with new phrases in order to talk about them. That's why "fees," "tariffs" and "tolls" are used to "balance deficits," instead of just putting it plainly: Taxes are needed to fund the government. It's an attempt to make taxes palatable to American sensibilities. This prettier word tactic is combated by calling anything you disagree with the ominous "hidden tax." A hidden tax is something lurking in the bushes that can jump out and bill you. Very scary. Notorious tax-phobe Grover Norquist requests conservative candidates sign his heavy-handed pledge not to raise taxes. He wants them to be like 1981's tax-cutter President Ronald Reagan. Not like 1982's, 1983's, 1984's, 1985's, 1986's and 1987's tax-raiser President Ronald Reagan. Because when it comes to taxes, always accentuate the cuts.
For politicians, raising taxes is taboo. It's an unmentionable. But if you talk with the average weed advocate -- er, marijuana activist -- er, cannabis enthusiast, one of their selling points is if pot were legal, you could tax it. Yes, a sin tax! A sin tax is what the government puts on things like gambling, booze or tobacco. It's designed to discourage people from doing it, because taxes are just that revolting. A sin tax is punitive. It's monetary punishment for being a sinner -- quite literally "hell to pay."
Could pot smokers be the only group in the history of the world to want to be taxed? To hope to be taxed? To specifically ask the government to tax them more? "I can't remember the last time an interest group volunteered to be taxed," admitted Councilwoman Janice Hahn, of Los Angeles, the semi-legal weed capital of the country.
This might be a first. Historic. A group of Americans is actually lobbying the government, asking to give more money to the government in the form of a tax. Weed is rumored to expand your mind in all sorts of unspecified ways. We may have found one of them. Volumes of political theory have just been challenged. We're witnessing history here. Someone notify the media!
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the editor of FishbowlLA.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.