Jolly Rancher-flavored Pop Tarts. The thought of crushed peppermint on scrambled eggs is almost as disgusting.
Many people start new years with lists, usually resolutions or pledges to do better.
This is a list – but of grievances.
The aforementioned breakfast pastries are grievance No. 1.
A TV commercial for Joly Rancher Pop Tarts led to an internet search to see if it was a joke. No such luck. The search confirmed two flavors: cherry and watermelon.
A Jolly Rancher hard candy is a delicious treat. But not for breakfast, thank you.
Grievance No. 2: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. There’s just something about this guy. Look up the word “smarmy” in the dictionary and his photo appears with the definition.
Schumer is a liberal, which is irrelevant to the disdain he deserves for deception and doublespeak. Conservatives are often duplicitous, but Schumer takes the cake.
Schumer’s recent whine has been about the tax bill passed by Republicans, how it was the best Christmas gift ever to rich people and big business and all.
Fact: 90 percent of all federal income taxes are paid by the top 1 percent.
Regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is operating the calculator, it’s math: There is no way to reduce taxes without those who pay the most also saving the most. This of it this way: Suppose members of a club are told dues are decreasing 10 percent. Those paying $100 save $10. Those paying $1,000, save $100. In Schumer-speak, the $1,000 guy is getting 10 times the benefit! Unfair! Unfair!
Grievance No. 3: Directly related to grievance No. 2.
Heartland radio personality Paul Harvey died in 2009. If he were still on the air, though, he would be making the statement he often made and no one ever refuted: “Corporations don’t pay taxes.”
A high-level business education is not needed to know the price paid for a package of (perish the thought) Jolly Rancher Pop Tarts is portioned into dozens and dozens of directions. The price is the sum of flour and sugar and packaging and transportation plus advertising and wholesaling and retailing. Basic to the pricing formula — and too often forgotten — is all taxes of all types paid by every person and business at every stage.
If this were not true, the chain of commerce simply would not work.
Harvey’s point was that all taxes are ultimately and entirely paid at the end point by the last person in the chain.
See? When the plea is for big businesses and corporations to pay more, it’s a plea for them to (1) go bankrupt or (2) raise prices. (They could also reduce the size of each Pop Tart, but that’s another discussion.)
Is unfettered capitalism evil? Yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that the higher the taxes the more business leaves the United States. Indeed, American tax policy could not have been more effective at discouraging commerce if it had been designed to discourage commerce.
Grievance No. 4: Government is Santa Claus.
I know, I know. The jolly old elf is back at the North Pole and should be put out of mind for another year, but the comparison works.
Through time, people have come to view government as a giver of gifts, a solver of problems. We treat elected officials like royalty and court their favor. Nothing wrong with that, really. It’s always good to be polite, to have clean water, pure foods and trustworthy fire and police protection. But unlike Santa Claus, government gives people the bill for every expense.
Government has a helpful place in society, but it is not our friend. Mississippi taxes our food and shelter. The treasury gets extra benefits the more we smoke, gamble and drink alcohol. During this year’s session, look for a state lottery to be trotted out as the salvation for Mississippi’s declining income.
A healthy distrust of government was certainly top of mind for those who drafted the U.S. Constitution. Somehow, we’ve lost that understanding. We want government to fix everything, to remove all injustices and inconveniences. And opportunistic politicians like Schumer are more than willing to cling to power by pledging to guide us to better lives. Anyway, in a more perfect world people would think a bit deeper about taxes, government and finks, whether on the left or right.
Now, imagine this: The Pop Tart people are a board room. The agenda calls for “New Flavors.” Someone says, “Jolly Rancher.” Amazingly, others applaud.
The world is in trouble.
CHARLIE MITCHELL is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.