He bought a new Cadillac every year. He owned at least three homes that I knew of; his house on the hill in the swankiest neighborhood, a well appointed "cabin" in the mountains, and a home in Hawaii. Every December he would leave for Hawaii and not return until the spring thaw in March, while those of us who were gainfully employed kept his income stream going through the sub-zero Colorado winters. Needless to say, there was a little grumbling among the employees from time to time.
One of the nice things about working the night shift is that if you hustle through the first seven hours, you can put your feet up for the eighth. On a January night, a few of us were sitting, listening to the wind howl, watching the snow "fall" from left to right, wondering if our cars were going to start, when we began grumbling. After a while, one guy who had been sitting quietly looking out the window, said to no-one in particular, "Ya' know, if I had his money, I'd be in Hawaii right now too." Good point.
What brought this memory back this morning was an article in Pajamas Media by Jennifer Rubin, about the latest tax plan.
A taxpayer in the 35% bracket gives a gift to United Way of $10,000. Under the current rules he can reduce his tax bill by $3500. Under the Obama plan he can only reduce his tax bill by $2800. In the Obama scheme, then, that United Way contribution now costs the taxpayer $700 more. The obvious result: give less to United Way so the higher tax bill can be paid. To be blunt, the government is discouraging charitable giving. It is hard to think of any worse tax policy or any one more harmful to the needy.
If there is one thing that I can say with absolute certainty, it's that we all want more than we have. Everybody has dreams. If I only had $1,000 I'd get this; $5,000 I'd get that; $50,000, and I'd definitely buy one of those. Well, what if you did? What if you lived a lifestyle that allowed for Christmas in Hawaii, springtime in the Rockies, and five figure checks to a variety of charities? Where would you cut? Would you tell the wife she’ll have to do her Christmas shopping in sub-zero weather, or shave a little off the donations? You could take those $10,000 checks down to $9,000 and still make it to Hawaii. $9,000 is still a lot of money. You could tell yourself that you're still being generous, and you'd be right. Just a little bit less here and there, and you won’t have to tell your friends that instead of prized-steer ribs, this year you’ll be serving mutton. Be honest with yourself. Which would you choose? Really?