The Hobo Philosopher
The Poverty Tax
By Richard E. Noble
Today in America we are constantly told that the rich pay all the taxes and the poor pay nothing. In fact, the poor are collecting payments from the wealthy for the privilege of the choice they made to be poor. As I understand it the poor have chosen their poverty. If they didn't want to be poor they could have made better choices and not been poor.
Although I hope that most of you find this argument rather ridiculous, this is not a new or recent argument. This argument has an ancient, classical heritage. It goes back into Roman and Greek times when the elitist thinkers considered poverty and slavery to be the work of the gods. Later on the "One True Church" also announced and supported the notion that God had his chosen "elect" and the rest of us were meant to be used, abused and starved.
In my opinion overcoming this human tradition has been the main struggle of the majority of mankind since its origin. This concept never seems to die. It is constantly being revived. In today’s world it has even gotten worse, if that could be possible. In ancient times poverty and subservience was blamed on God or the gods but in today's world it is blamed on the individual. The poor themselves are responsible for their poverty. They have made all the wrong choices and are lacking in drive and ambition.
The wealthy and even the middle class are very upset with the poor. They are tired of helping the poor out and paying for their lack of effort. The rich and even middle class in this nation no longer want to pay their taxes or any taxes - if that can be made possible. If taxes must be paid they want the poor to pay more. They want the poor to bear their fair burden.
It is my opinion that the poor are in reality the highest taxed of all classes in this country. They pay taxes that the middle-off and the better-off don't even know about.
The poor pay the "dumb" tax.
Poor people are not often blessed with the highest intellects. Yes, there have been many poor people who were very intelligent, but the ranks of the poor are heavy with those who are the least blessed or gifted intellectually. It has always amazed me how the most gifted and brightest among us take such pride in competing and beating the least gifted in our society.
To have regular people competing against the poor for jobs and education is like having Olympic champions competing in the Special Olympics and taking the medals from those simple children.
In our society we are able to make the distinction between the "retarded" and the normal, but we make no gradations for differing degrees of normal. If a person is two points above the retarded level he is considered normal and expected to compete on the same level with those who register as genius. Because you are not blessed genetically you work for less than is necessary to provide for yourself and you live in poverty, squalor, or in some extreme cases under a bridge or in a sewer. In the not so distant past this was called "social injustice."
Because you were born smarter this means that you deserve the greatest rewards from our society and because you were born less smart this means that you deserve prison, poverty, or the gutter or sewer?
As an intelligent person shouldn't it be your moral obligation to try and assist and make those less blessed better off? How can it be considered praiseworthy for the best and brightest to use their natural skills and ability to exploit, dominate and enslave the less fortunate?
One only has to look around him in this world and read a few history books to see that using, exploiting and taking advantage of the poor and not well-born has been the case for century after century.
I would say the "dumb" tax is a pretty burdensome tax to inherit through no fault or choice of your own.
2) The poor pay the bad mom and dad tax.
It is also a sociological fact that a majority of the least accomplished parents are found in the poverty classes. There are bad parents in all classes but in the poorer classes bad parenting is more the rule than the exception. There is more abuse of all kinds in the ranks of the poor. I have no doubt that surveys or studies would find that more than ninety percent of prison populations are the products of abusive parenting.
3) The poor pay the education tax.
The poorest children get the poorest education. There is no doubt about this. They also receive the least encouragement from their parents. The poor are the least inspired and the least encouraged.
The poor very often see no advantage to education. Reading a book does not put bread onto a poor family's table. There usually has never been anyone in a poor family to achieve great things. The examples we see and read about are the exceptions not the rule.
4) The poor pay the prison tax.
No, they don't pay for the prison, they provide the population. Poor people fill the prisons all over the world. The rich and the better-off, even the middle-off make up a very small percentage of those that fill the jail cells around the world and also here in the United States. This is another historical and sociological fact. It is not simply a phenomenon of today - it has always been. The only thing that is different today is that those who are prone to obfuscate this fact use more sophisticated psychological techniques and propaganda rather than direct force and abuse.
If you add to this fact the long accepted sociological premise that poverty precipitates or creates crime and then add that poverty is a consequence of the social structure - unemployment, lack of education and vocational training, absence of living wages, income inequality and opportunity - then it seems that society creates crime. This was Clarence Darrow’s point of view.
5) The poor pay the slum tax.
Middle class and the better-off don't usually live in slums. Slums are for the poor. Slums clearly provide those individuals living there with an unhealthy environment - an unhealthy physical environment, mental environment, and social environment.
The better-off and middle-off ride through a nearby slum - and there is always one nearby - and ask one another; Why do those kind of people live like that? It seems that the better-off people think that the poor actually constructed the slums themselves. They never seem to realize that it is one of their "kind" who own these slums. It was one of their kind who originally built these slums. It was one of their kind who profited and made a fortune renting these dilapidated towers of squalor to those who could afford no better; or were not allowed to go elsewhere by economic constrictions. No group of poor ever got together and contracted Frank Lloyd Wright to design them a slum.
6) The poor pay the poor diet tax.
The poor person does not go into the meat market and say; Ah, what shall I have today? No he strolls about looking at the prices and he purchases the least expensive offering. If he hasn't the price for the least expensive offering, he turns and walks out and he goes without that evening. His family goes without. He may eat chicken necks for weeks, or gizzards and liver; or oat meal; or bread and dripping; or potatoes or nothing at all. He may only eat a piece of fruit on a rare occasion and vegetables on special occasions. If he does eat fruit and vegetables they are from a can and contain a lot of salt and no vitamins. His diet for the most part may be broth and bread or crackers. He may eat horse oats or cattle food, or grains that were designed for chickens and other barnyard animals. In the big cities he may eat out of garbage cans.
7) The poor pay the rotten teeth tax.
You can go back through the ages and you will see poor are identified by rotten teeth. A group of “Dentists without Borders” came to the U.S. recently. When interviewed after their free clinic was complete, they all had the same conclusion. If we judge by the condition of peoples’ teeth, America is a third world country.
In this society we hear a lot about “responsibility.” When is this society going to take responsibility for it inadequacies?
8) The poor pay the alcohol tax
The poor child is much more likely to have one or both of his parents to be alcoholics. If you have been raised in a family where alcohol abuse is prevalent, you know what a struggle this can be for the child. The child subject to this type home is not on a level playing field with all the lucky kids who come from non-alcoholic families. He gets a distorted picture of life, home and family. In the race for success he starts ten yards behind the starting line of children without this burden.
9) The poor pay the inflation tax.
Inflation doesn’t hurt everybody. As inflation rises, the investments of the wealthy rise. Business owners compensate and raise their prices disproportionately. They end up making money. But the poor pay through the nose. They are always the last to get a raise in pay. It seems that the American people would rather put a cap on minimum wage than on the multi-million dollar pay checks of corporate executives. Milton Freedmen has devised a famous economic theorem equating inflation with unemployment. In other words, we control inflation by putting poor people out of work. If the economy needs more adjustment we continue from the bottom up – not cutting pay from the top down. Inflation is a big tax on the poor and the elderly. Those who have excess can cut something or adjust their spending; those who have little end up starving and in the street.
10) The poor pay the depression tax.
When the economy slumps the poor are the first to go. Only 30% of those who apply for unemployment compensation ever collect.Unemployment is under reported. Many who lose their jobs never apply for unemployment checks; many rural areas don’t even have unemployment offices, many take jobs at reduced pay and others end up working part time – the under employed is a big factor. During the Great Depression they reported 20% unemployment, but when part time workers and under employed workers are added the percentage jumps to 40 to 50% unemployed.
11) The poor pay the drug addiction tax.
All of what applies to the child of with alcoholic family influences applies double to the child born to a drug addicted mother or father. As these kids grow older they fill our prisons. Statistics prove this to be a fact. Why does society chose to ignore it?
12) The poor pay the abuse tax.
Whether it is alcohol, drugs, mental illness, or pure meanness and sadism, children who have been abused are subject to great pressure. I have no doubt that once again if we study our prisons we will find abuse of one type or another to exist in the backgrounds of the vast majority of the inmates. Of those that maintain their integrity and manage to stay out of prison, their ability to compete normally and to succeed is hampered significantly.
13) The poor pay the war tax.
It is common knowledge that throughout history, the poor fight the wars. The rich promote and decide on the wars and the regular people fight them. The super-rich and the better-off have always been able to opt out or lay back. The middle class and lower make up the bulk of the society and consequently they make up the bulk of any countries armed services.
The poor on both sides of the war pay the price of the war in injuries and deaths. Non-combatant deaths and injuries always far exceed the death and injuries to the soldiers.
14) The poor pay the no-inheritance tax.
The parents of poor children have nothing to leave behind but their debts and bad attitudes. The millionaires may pay a tax on the wealth they leave behind but this is far less of a disadvantage than those who are left nothing behind.
15) The poor pay the immobile tax.
Most poor people see their neighborhood and that is it. They live and die in less than 100 square miles of where they were born. And the statistics judging their economic mobility is much the same. Most kids born into poverty will grow up to be poor themselves. Jumping from poor to working class or middle class is getting more and more difficult and less and less likely. Despite all the Horatio Alger stories, the facts and statistics are negative.
In conclusion, I feel that it is safe to say that what the wealthy pay in taxes is a pittance when compared to what the poor must pay to a society for their poverty. The rich only pay “money,” a portion of their wealth. The poor pay with their hearts, their souls, their minds, bodies and the lives of their children. It is time for a change, the politicians are saying. That is for sure.