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Burning Your TaxesWe have all heard (one way or another) how "hard" our tax money is working. Of course, as it cannot be otherwise, such expressions change from country to country and typically each one of them expresses the same idea differently. The good news? It is only semantics. The bad news? It is true. How come? Keep reading...

Let us ask you this one. Do you believe that your tax money is getting you what you are paying for? And just to be fair, let's qualify the question. No. We are not talking about all the "stuff" that your government does through borrowing, printing and the always popular… lying…. We are talking specifically about taxes. And so the question is this one. Given the taxes you pay, do you believe you are getting the services you are supposedly paying for? Now, we know that this is somewhat of a trick question because you don't really know how much you are paying in taxes. In many countries, taxes are stolen "at source" (i.e. you never actually get to pay the government since payment has been exacted from your money even before you get to it). In addition, we have "Value Added Taxes" which may or may not be visible. We have "Sales" Taxes, "Special" Taxes, "Added" Taxes, "Trailing" Taxes and so on. We are pretty sure that by now, if apparatchiks have not run out of qualifiers for tax names, they must be darn close.

And so, we ask again, now that you know what the question is. Do you believe that you are getting what you are paying for?

Chances are excellent your answer will be no.

Neither does our reader (the one). Yes. We have got one. It happens. We work hard to prevent repeats, but it happens despite our best efforts. Some time ago we received a "communique" (let's be fancy, shall we?) from a person who actually bothers to read this site. Amazing, isn't it?

Anyhoo… this person was bitching about how the taxes that…let's call this person… uhhh… Inga. Sure. Why not. It's a name as good as any other. Inga was bitching about how the taxes she pays don't even get her a free parking spot!

What?

Parking spot?

That's what we thought. Yet… we kept reading. It so happens that she was really upset about something else, which led to something else which led to yet something different and as a result she had to pay for parking. And so, smelling a ground breaking story we sent your crack team of investigative journalists (all expenses paid) to the country of…let's call it Westeralia… which is one of the most "advanced" countries in the West (yeah… we will keep some info from you, dear reader, to protect the guilty… sorry... the "innocent"...the "innocent") oh, yeah, fyi, this conutry is most definitively NOT the USA. There. Seriously. NOT USA. Stop bitching.

After a thorough investigation that lasted a very long time and a travel expense account that inflated like the external debt of a banana republic (classic ones, not modern), we received a full report. And what a report! Hundreds of pages of data, interviews, graphs, and issues… in a word "the truth".

Really?

Well… allow us to put it this way… if you believe that one, you should work for a politician.

Anyhoo… we let our fingers do the research (i.e. Internet praebet) and a story finally emerged. This is the result.

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A HOSPITAL

Which belonged to the state and served a town (let's call it OKTown) which was growing at a normal speed. The hospital was designed to provide basic and advanced services to an average municipality and its remaining life-expectancy was of a few more decades. So. A good hospital, working OK and serving a population with acceptable efficiency (yes, this is one of those cases where a government did get it right…yes… we said ONE, OK? so don't overdo it).

But then the "other" government, the one above the municipal level, decided that a… let's call it MonsterMunicipality was becoming unmanageable and didn't want more construction in there (by the way, this "higher authority" created the MonsterMunicipality to begin with). So, they decided that OKTown and its surrounding areas would be designated as a "growth" area (i.e. housing construction area), whether the municipality of OKTown liked it or not (they didn't, by the way, and all attempts to "petition" higher authorities "were taken into consideration and denied"). In order to do so, they "Eminently Domained" a crapload of lands in OKTown and surrounding areas and provided "incentives" to builders to go nuts there. After all, all that brand spanking new money that they have been printing since 2008 must go somewhere!

The only small "hiccup" that the upper government didn't take into consideration was the fact that with this new explosive growth, the original hospital of OKTown would not be able to cope with the "sudden influx" of "only" a few hundredth thousand extra people which were never factored in to begin with. And so, overnight, OKTown's hospital became insufficient.

Originally, the "higher authorities" showed the middle finger in an extended fashion to the municipality of OKTown and told them to "deal with it". Of course, they couldn't. And so a "protracted" "due diligence" "process" was "initiated" in order to "engage" this "higher authority" with the view of "collaborating" in "reaching an agreement" about the "necessary solution" to solve this "public health care" issue. In other words, OKTown threatened to sue the hell of the "higher authority" if they didn't fork out the money to build a new hospital. Yup, blackmail basically.

THE SAGA OF THE NEW HOSPITAL BEGINS

Of course, in this day and age (do you like the expression?) all governments anywhere in the world are "strapped for cash" and must take "considerable care" when it comes to "expenditures". And so the "higher authority" "negotiated" back. Eventually, "an agreement" was reached which "benefited all parties" (just not the taxpayers, that is). The deal was that OKTown will contribute 50 million (currency? not USD, but believe us, it was a big deal) and the "higher authority" would pay another 50 million and … and get the land… which was already "acquired" (i.e. "Eminently Domained" from their actual, real owners).

Success! Clamored the municipal "leaders" of OKTown. And they proceed to spread out the good news left, right and centre in their political campaigns. No need to ignore a perfectly good boost in votes just because their failure to prevent the onslaught of people into OKTown created the problem which they half-assedly sort-of solved.

Half-assedly?

Yes, because quietly under the table plans were already in motion to… drumroll please… increase taxes in OKTown! That's right. This "magnificent" deal that the "authorities" of OKTown reached with the "higher authorities" had absolutely nothing to do with reality and the town simply could not afford to pay an extra 50 million! As you can imagine, by the time the residents of OKTown discovered this "transaction", it was too late. It had already gone through. They were stuck with the bill. Though luck, "deal with it" they were told in so many politically correct words.

FIFTY/FIFTY

The whole thing was a problem because the propaganda coming from the municipal authorities of OKTown sold the deal to the people as a fifty/fifty effort. After all, it was only fair that the entity that caused all this problem paid for only half the solution!... no… wait… hold on…errrrr… let's try again… it was only fair to distribute the effort for public goods and services among society… there… much better now. And of course, people bought it.

Now you see why we keep stating that people are stupid? It is not an insult but a description of reality.

Anyhoo… the problem was that it wasn't. Fifty/fifty that is. It was far, far less. But the project had already started, contracts were signed and there was nothing that could be done short of just giving the money to the contractors and walk away. That money was already gone one way or another.

The problem was that… OKTown municipal authorities "clarified" an "obscure" issue at a "latter date". This issue was that yes, it was fifty/fifty… but only for the building! All the stuff inside the building was something entirely different. This is, the "higher authority" only paid half of construction costs and the OKTown was on the hook to pay for everything else. And that "everything else" amounted to another 100 million!!! Upsssss….

And so the municipality of OKTown having realized that adding a tax increase to a tax increase on top of a tax increase would necessarily lead them to lose their cushy jobs, they decided (in their infinite wisdom) to launch a campaign of "donations". And for that purpose they sub-contracted to get professional beggars to ask house-by-house for "donations". And allegedly (we can't confirm this) there was at least one "incentive clause" in the contract; i.e. the higher the donation the higher the contractual bonus. And so those people "canvassed" the entire town of OKTown (about 200.000 people) trying (by any means necessary) to get them to donate. Their preferred tactic was to "guilt people" into "donating" by "reminding" them of their "social responsibility" and the fact that the new hospital (a new "state-of-the-art" hospital) will benefit them. Just sign on the dotted line and we will charge your credit card on an ongoing basis. See how easy it is?

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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