Archive for November, 2009
The Tax Foundation has coined the phrase “Tax Freedom Day”, indicating the day of the year at which the average American stops working for the IRS. This is a handy way to illustrate the impact of the plight of paying income tax on the individual. It fails, however, to illustrate the human aspect of the individual contribution to collective expenditures. For this, I think the concept of “Tax Life” might be a good indicator. It measures the number of people paying taxes throughout their working lives it takes to pay for a collective expenditure.
Let’s try to illustrate this by an example. The Dutch gross modal income for a Dutch citizen in 2009 is € 31.930,-, including 8% holiday pay. The net modal income for a Dutch citizen is € 19.379,52-, making the annual contribution to the national treasury about € 12.551,-. Supposing that the average Dutch citizen works 47 years in his lifetime (from his 18th to his 65th birthday), this would mean that he’d pay € 589.897,- in his lifetime. Being inapt in numbers I’d be happy to stand corrected and receive better input for all this, but it leads to the following observations:
- 0,5 tax life to pay for the annual salary of the inspector general of the Dutch Ministery of Health
- 4,5 tax lives to support a theatre group (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) for a year
- 6 tax-lives for a joint strike fighter
- 12 tax lives to pay for the Dutch Royal household
- 17 tax-lives for one kilometre of highway
- 60.000 tax lives to pay for the department of Education for one year
My father died last Thursday. He had been through a world of pain for months, before he could finally let go. It was the proverbial old man’s friend that came to his aid for the departure. Fortunately, most of his direct family-members were present when he died. We could all participate in the postmortem care, with the loving assistance of the GP and the health workers present. He is now lying in repose with a most peaceful expression on his face. Helping to prepare his body for this proved to be rather confronting for me, because it was the first time I could closely study the gangrenous wounds on his leg in a very long time, as they had been permanently covered up with bandages and ointments . It was only when I saw the skin of his complete lower legs -black and textured like charred wood- when I realised how spot on his description had been of the excruciating pain in his legs. “It’s like they are burning my legs with a heat gun”. I can only feel contempt for the medical professionals (the “doctors”, not the nurses) who treated my father as an Alzheimer’s patient, while he was fully conscious but suffering from a maddening pain that rendered him delirious. Categorically, they refused to ease his suffering with effective pain-medication in fear of medication abuse. Although the end may have been inevitable, it could have been with less abuse, manhandling, humiliation and pain. It took a humble GP and very dedicated hospice workers to recognize this and lend some dignity to my father’s final days.
This just in: Rather confronting (or liberating) results of my religiosity-test on www.trouw.nl. Apparently I have a quite fragmentary religious life and the test-result states that my thinking does not really take root anywhere. After some initial sobbing, I found out I was actually happy to hear that. And my Calvinism is with 39% lower than I feared. Sadly, the relitest isn’t available in English (yet), but you can check your Calvinism here.
The son of Marlies starred as the young Nelson Mandela in a Dutch musical on his life. Impressive to see the young lad frolic around the stage amidst a group of adults solemnly performing a musical hagiography of sorts.