Think About the Cost of Living

Charles Walker served in the Air Force for 13 years and is now an Electrical Technician. He is currently completing a B.A. with a concentration in Political Science.    Email:    cwalk1349@outlook.com

Charles Walker served in the Air Force for 13 years and is now an Electrical Technician. He is currently completing a B.A. with a concentration in Political Science.

Email: cwalk1349@outlook.com

Around the time when President Donald Trump discussed placing on tariffs on Canada and Mexico, there was a widely used talking point that kept being touted. That tariffs placed on goods coming from foreign countries wouldn’t be paid by those countries but by the American citizens purchasing those goods by means of increased price. While there is little disagreement with the analogy, I’ve never understood why it was never applied to any other circumstance.

In the United States much of the burden for individual worker prosperity is placed on the business itself. Most businesses are burdened with paying a payroll tax, providing health insurance, a living wage and an income tax of their own. While it is valuable to discuss the ideology of what an employer should provide an employee in terms of compensation, we forget that it’s the consumer who will ultimately pay for that compensation. I am currently not aware of any US organization that doesn’t pass their expenses onto the consumer. The wage of the employee and upper management is built into the cost of the item. The cost of an ear of corn from Nebraska traveling to my home in New Hampshire has the wage of the farmer, transportation cost, cost of the supermarket employee all built into that final cost. Moderate reasoning would lead anyone to this conclusion. Why is it never discussed in terms of taxes?

The cost of that ear of corn doesn’t just include wage and transportation costs. Each ear of corn sold goes towards paying that farmer’s property tax. It must pay his income tax, tax he pays on gas, social security, vehicle registration tax for his tractor and truck, federally mandated medical insurance, state mandated vehicle insurance, etc. All of these items add to the cost of that ear of corn. When that farmer sells his corn to the supermarket to be sold, that supermarket in turn has to pay for their own share of income, gas, social security, and property taxes, with most states adding on a sales tax at the end. All of these taxes are paid by the consumers and even the poorest amongst us are forced to pay for these taxes.

The taxes in which any political party enacts for the “good” of the population aren’t paid by the wealthy or the “evil” corporations. Those burdens are placed on all Americans. The average US household already pays on average $6,000 in property, sales and gas tax on their consumption alone. How much more are we paying because the tax burden on companies are passed down to us? 

According to USdebtclock.org, the total tax revenue for the Federal and state governments average $19,709 per U.S. citizen. The average income per person, $48,150 means that each year the average US citizen will lose about 41% of their income, either directly or indirectly to taxes. Those taxes can be visible like the sales tax on your receipt, or the income tax on your pay stub. But what about that $4 for a gallon of milk, how much of that is because of taxes? That $12,000 college tuition, $5,000 operation, $3 million is road maintenance, what percentage of those costs are purely because of the tax burden those institutions must pay? Is it possible to ease the cost of living for the poorest amongst us not by handouts but in terms of lowering the cost themselves? I don’t think there would be any individual upset about making $1/month if it cost $0.99 to live.  

Not all taxes are evil, and some are required for universal goods that would otherwise be marginally supported in the public realm. We must remember that taxes add to the cost of living, and that cost of living is spread to all U.S. citizens. Taxes should be minimal, and add the least amount of burden to the economy. The often attacked 1% have no problem paying these taxes and then enjoying the prosperity of this country. The true issue I have with taxes is when the citizens of our nation who earn less than average are still forced to pay for these taxes. It inhibits their ability to save, buy health insurance, food, etc. And it makes zero sense to funnel the income earned by those taxes through the state to the individuals, because the state pays taxes as well. When politicians are pushing the “Fight for $15” because cost of living has drastically increased over the years, ask them where that cost is coming from. Corporations may be greedy, but they are forced to play by the rules of a greedy government.