On Taxes and the Value of Your Life

Paying a tax is nothing less than making a sacrifice – a sacrifice of a very finite, very real and unrecoverable piece of your limited life.  –  Jay Madison Hamilton


Have you ever thought about taxes?  No –  I don’t mean just when you file your income taxes or listen to the talking heads talk about paying your fair share.  Have you ever really thought about taxes?

Sure you have.  Most Americans have at least asked themselves if they are paying too much tax or whether their taxes are “fair.”  Conservatives even ask questions about using tax policy to control individual behavior or aid/depress a particular marketplace (real estate/tobacco).  We have previously talked about fairness and we will, in the future, discuss the use of tax policy to control individual behavior but today we want to ask you to think a little deeper about the subject of taxes.

Taxes are certainly necessary.  State, local and federal governments can perform necessary and valuable services and it is necessary that these services be paid for by the citizens – there is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy – money for government operations ultimately can only come from the citizen.

A tax is fundamentally a transfer of wealth from the citizen to the government. Wealth is simply  anything of value that you possess.  Now most people believe that their wealth is in the form of money, real estate, stocks, bonds, IRAs or 401Ks.  However, these are really only measures of wealth.  Your wealth is really the accumulated value of the product of the value of your work effort and your time.   I recognize that wealth itself can be used to increase wealth – e.g., a good investment.  However, ultimately all wealth must initially be created by work effort applied over time.

When a person goes to school and learns a skill (e.g., an engineer) or learns a trade (e.g., a plumber) he or she increases the value of their work effort.  Specialized knowledge or skills makes one’s work effort more valuable.  So routinely people are free to make life decisions that ultimately affect the value of their work effort.

Government is concerned with your accumulated wealth and the value of that accumulated wealth is determined by the amount of time you dedicate to creating that wealth.  The government has (so far) found no way to tax the value of your work effort.  Whether your work effort is worth $7.00 an hour or $500 an hour, the government cannot really tax you on this value.  It can only tax you when you apply work effort over time and create wealth.  Time is the component of real value to you.  Time is necessary for you to take your skills and knowledge and create wealth.  When the government taxes you the tax is really on your time.

Your time is the most valuable asset you possess.  It is more valuable than your education, your work experience or skills.  Time is a valuable resource because it is an extremely limited resource.  Each of us is given only so much time.  When our time is gone we are done.  There is no more wealth creation.

Few of us want to think about our own mortality and as a result we tend to undervalue our time.  When we are 16 we think we will live forever.  When we are 66, we begin to realize that this is not true.  Once you truly grasp the concept of your own mortality you can grasp the importance of your time.  Once you understand the importance of your allotted time you can understand that your wealth is your time.

When you pay taxes you are not just giving up dollars to the government, you are also giving up the value of your time.  In other words, when you pay a tax you are really taking your most precious and most limited resource and giving it to the government.  You should really feel about paying taxes the way you would feel if you were giving up your first-born child to the government because you are giving up something just as important – you are giving up a piece of your life, your essence and your whole being.  Let me say this again – in paying taxes you are giving up a piece of your life.  Regardless of how much money you have, paying a tax can be viewed as nothing less than making a sacrifice – a sacrifice of a very finite, very real and unrecoverable piece of your limited life.

People who have a ho-hum attitude towards government inefficiency, waste, fraud and abuse are really declaring that they do not value their own life.  People who pay no taxes are worse than thieves taking your money – they are murderers taking a part of your life.  Those who advocate for bigger government programs and more taxes simply place little value on your life.

The Hoover Institution researcher Peter Schweizer documented in his book Throw Them All Out that members of President Obama’s campaign finance committee, his campaign bundlers and major Democratic donors received $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans and grants doled out under “green stimulus” programs run by Obama’s Energy Department.  Many of the companies involved have or will go bankrupt.  As a taxpayer you are now bailing out banks, insurance companies and auto companies as well as paying other peoples mortgages.  This is your life that is being wasted.  You can never get it back.  Think about it.

Jay Madison Hamilton

One thought on “On Taxes and the Value of Your Life

  1. Guess I am a thief..for the first time in my adult life I paid no Income tax this past year. Lost enough money due to the economy that I had no income. No income, can’t pay bills, no tithe to the church, no taxes. Hurry up Obama I need your dole..