How Much of Our Lives are Controlled by the Government?

A day in the life of Antoine Sly…

“My alarm clock goes off at 7 am and wakes me up. I snooze it a few times because my bed is way too comfortable. Finally, I look at the clock all irritated and think to myself…”Hey, it’s 7am for a reason. Why isn’t it 8am? Because the government say’s it’s 7am. Hmmmm…” I think as I yawn and roll out of bed. “I wonder what else the government controls in my life?” I turn on the light, the lightbulb is the one the government lets me use, and the electricity is taxed and regulated. As I put my hand on the bed to help my fat ass stand up, I feel that annoying tag on my pillow that says, “if you remove this tag, you’re going to spend the rest of your life in jail” and I remember there’s a tag like that on my mattress. The government controls my bed and pillow. Not a good start to the day.

Man…sure gotta piss. Head to the toilet, lift the seat and think, “If my wife really loved me, she’d leave that dang thing up when she’s done.” Flush. The government tells me how much water I can flush and they tax that flush.

Brushing my teeth and realize the toothpaste is approved by the government. Chlorine in the water comes from the government. The little ladies makeup is on the counter only because the government allows it. My shampoo, conditioner and soap are all government approved and that shower water was taxed. Shower head and drainage for the shower…government approved. I’m surprised my piss wasn’t regulated or taxed. I’m sure someday it will be.

Moving through the house, I realize pretty much everything about my house is regulated by the government. If I want to add an outdoor kitchen, I need to get the government’s permission. If I want to remove a tree from my yard, I have to ask my government masters first. Well that sucks. I pay property tax every year, and as I look at my tax statement, I see I also get to pay extra for bonds and other crap. Funny, when the value of my house went to shit, my property tax went up. Hmmmmm. Isn’t it based on the value of the property? Guess not.

I start to make breakfast and turn on the TV for some morning news. The TV is regulated and the TV show is regulated. The batteries in my remote are regulated. Swallow a blood pressure pill, and some vitamins…all regulated by the government. All the food in my entire kitchen is regulated, including the herbs my wife grows. Speaking of which, I can’t collect rain water because the government owns the rain. Really? Really. Oh, and speaking of my wife, she’s taxed and regulated. You know, marriage license and fee.

Geez…fine way to start the day. Let’s head to work. Maybe things will get better.

Open the car door. The car is regulated from bumper to bumper, tires and all. Every couple years I pay registration…a tax. I pet Fido before closing the car door…there’s a tax on my dog. Close the door, start the engine, which of course takes gas…taxed and regulated. Turn on the radio, what I hear is regulated by the government. The news says a cop shot someone. Guns are regulated, ammo is regulated, and cops get paid vacation when they kill a person. He’ll probably get his gun back and be back on the beat in no time. I shouldn’t use words like “the beat”.

I pull out of the garage and into the street…an onslaught of regulations!! Holy shit! Where I can drive, when I can drive, how I can drive. Everything I see on the side of the road…billboards, signs, businesses, schools, bikes, people walking, people crossing the road, people talking on the phone in the car next to me, the baby seat in that lady’s car. Better get off the road quick before I go mad thinking about all the taxes and regulations I’m seeing and hearing.

I park the car and make a quick stop at Starbucks for a coffee. A $5 coffee. Yeah, it’s good. I wonder what went into that coffee to make it so good? Forget that, why is it so damn expensive?! Well, rent for the building. The cost of the equipment. The cost of coffee beans and the sugary goodness they put in. The cost of the cup, and the printing on the cup. Oh yeah, the cost of the design of the printing on the cup. Electricity to keep the lights on and the machines working. The cost to get the goods from the producer to the store. The cost of the barista’s hourly wage, their health insurance, their unemployment tax, matching their social security, TriMet tax, Workers’ Benefit Fund, their vacation, their maternity leave if they have a baby, their training, and their uniform. Oh…let’s not forget, the federal and state income tax Starbucks pays. The tax on the equipment. The extra $$ they pay to meet regulations (some of which are BS). Whew…that’s a lot and I’m sure there’s more. I used to think Starbucks paid for all of that stuff…but now that I think about it…I’m the one paying. And if Starbucks expenses go up, I pay for that through an increase in the price of my Super extra di grande a basso contenuto di grassi cremoso gelato vanigliato moca con panna montata e gocce di cioccolato. Decaf.

I get to work, sit down at my desk, and see my paycheck stub sitting there. I don’t usually pay much attention to it, but since taxes are on the brain today, let’s check it out. Federal income tax, state income tax, FICA (social security), Medicare. Curious, how much does the average person pay in taxes? Everything included. A quick Google search on the Internet which is regulated…about 50% of income is ultimately taxed. Wow. So that means, when I work for eight hours, four of those hours are for paying taxes. The first six months of the year, I’m working for the government. That’s screwed. What exactly do I get when the government takes half of the $$ I work hard for?

I work four hours and breath a sigh of relief…my daily duty to pay my share of the tax burden is done. Squeeze in a quick phone call to the doctor and dentist to make my regular appointments. The doc and dentist are both heavily regulated. Everyone knows that. Oh, I’m talking on my cell phone…regulated and taxed. The next four hours are all for me. Four more go by and I’m outta here. What a relief.

Gonna hit the bar for a quick drink on the way home. “I’ll take a nice cold one!” Beer and alcohol are taxed and regulated. Step outside for a smoke, taxed and regulated. Gamble a bit while I’m here…taxed and regulated.

I’m talking to a guy (turned out he’s a tax accountant) at the bar about taxes. He brings up a good point. Even though Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax, doesn’t mean we don’t pay one. Every tax paid by a business is passed on to us. Damn!! He’s so right!! He rattles off some: Personal property tax for business, excise tax, corporate income tax, unemployment insurance tax, your companies share of social security, TriMet tax, Workers’ Benefit Fund, weight-mile tax, hazardous substance fee, petroleum load fee, transient lodging tax, timber tax, business licensing, health department permitting, permitting for just about any professional business, privilege tax, and Multnomah County Business Income Tax. He says there’s probably more he missed. I ponder that while finishing up my beer. Those taxes are built into every single product and service I pay for. If they weren’t there I’d be paying a lot less.

I better get going. I’ve had one beer so the government probably thinks I’m drunk already. Driving home, I hear on the radio, “the cost of living rose by 6% this year”. Hey wait a minute, I got a 2% pay raise. That doesn’t sound too good. Maybe it wasn’t actually a raise?

I finally get home, exhausted from a day of way too much thinking. I sit down with my wife and we talk about our days. She’s not too happy to hear that just about every single thing in our lives is either taxed or regulated. She, like me had no idea. Time, air, love, death, food, drink, movement, education, my $$, what I buy, what I sell, what we see, what we hear, where we can go, what we can do. Time for bed.”