Where Are We With Taxes? Let’s Ask

I’d like to think that my talent with the written word is responsible for the landslide of response the last two weeks. But I suspect the topics – politics as usual and the insanity of our massive national debt – has far more to do with it. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it. The more of us who get involved the better. The more unwilling to accept the embarrassing load of debt we’re handing our childr-, uh, grandchil-, er, great-grandchildren . . . the better.

Let’s recap. The discussion began when our country reached its debt limit . . . and the hired hands in Washington appear to be going down the same ol’ path of not addressing the real problem (let alone cutting spending and actually starting to fix it). Nope, they’re going to play politics for a while and then, one-two-presto . . . they’re going to “solve” everything by kicking the can down the road and raising the debt limit.

However, there’s a little good news. In addition to an awful lot of you talking about this, Sen. Mike Braun – yes, the same one running for governor in the great Hoosier State, and 23 of his Republican buddies sent a letter to President Joe Biden about the growing debt. Was it a political stunt? Oh, probably. But at least they said something.

“Americans are keenly aware that their government is not only failing to work for them – but actively working against them,” the letter said in part. “We do not intend to vote for a debt-ceiling increase without structural reforms to address current and future fiscal realities and manage out-of-control government policies.”

It stops short of saying they’ll find ways to reduce spending.

Hey, it’s a start.

How did we get here?

Well, part of it is greed and corruption. If anyone out there thinks that Joe Biden and his pals all over D.C. (past and present) didn’t get fat and happy in their government jobs, well, I’ve got a couple of daily newspapers I want to sell you! Besides, let’s not forget the wise words from one of the last honest guys to sit in the Oval Office, Harry S. Truman. “Show me a man who gets rich by being a politician, and I will show you a crook.”

Amen, Harry . . . amen!

Look, a lot of us grew up the same way. My wife and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage in a few months – assuming she doesn’t kill me first. And we’ve done OK for ourselves. I say that not to brag. We worked our asses off for what we have. The thing is, we – like many of you – started out with little. We lived in Mrs. Schroeder’s upstairs for a while on West Main Street because we couldn’t afford our own place. When we finally could, that first abode was a house trailer. Hey, the newspaper I worked at was paying me $190 a week and all the newsprint I could eat. It’s what we could afford.

Did I suggest the government was to blame? Did I expect someone to improve things for me?

My Dad and his Dad would have kicked me in the posterior if I had.

Instead, I got more jobs. I worked at the Park & Rec Department running a summer league. I got my referee’s license and started ref’ing games. As a writer, I freelanced. Later on, I coached three sports at a high school.

How many of you worked more than one job back in the day? I’ll bet a lot.

We had to, right? The idea that the government would step in and either give us a free handout, or force our employers to double the wages they were paying would have resulted in a whole lot of politicians finding out just how angry voters react at the ballot box.

  • Times have changed.
  • Our taxes are out of control.
  • Government spending is out of control.
  • Government growth is out of control.

I’ll ask again – how did we get here? It sure didn’t happen overnight. It’s kind of like that old story about the camel’s nose. The thought is that if a camel sticks its nose under the tent and you don’t shoo it away, then little by little the camel will soon follow. Tell you what friends, the camel and his buddies are in our tent.

So we’re going to be like that camel. Over some time, we’re going to take a closer look at the details of where our money goes in the government and pass what we learn along. We’ve already started by reaching out earlier this week and asking for some “big picture” data. Simply put, we asked four things: 1.) How much money does the county bring in each year 2.) What are the sources of that money (income tax, property taxes, etc.) 3.) What local taxes have been passed over the years (dates and what it was for) And 4.) How much does the county spend year by year?

However, let me be crystal clear. The intention here is to not be critical of the county. It’s just a place to start to figure things out. Let me say it again:

  • Times have changed.
  • Our taxes are out of control.
  • Government spending is out of control.
  • Government growth is out of control.

So we’re asking questions. We’ll report the answers – good, bad or indifferent – and we’ll see what we learn. Truth to tell, I hate to start here. The best, and I truly do mean that, the best people in government are those on the local level. For the most part, these are friends and neighbors and folks who just want to do their part. Government at the local level is usually as good as government gets.

The bigger issues, 97.5 percent of the problems, are in Indianapolis and Washington. But if we’re going to get things to change, we have to start somewhere.

Want to join in? Send your questions, comments and concerns my way. We’ll see where this goes.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Thursdays in The Times. Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is also a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at ttimmons@thetimes24-7.com.