Gene Royer

Gene Royer is a staunch conservative. He is also a Policy Governance ® consultant and writer. He is the author of School Board Leadership 2000 - The Things Staff Didn't Tell You At Orientation and his international practice is based in Houston

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    by Gene Royer

    September 30th, 2002

    Gene Writes:

    My good friend, Mr Tran, lives about five houses down from me and across the street. Since he and I share the same ideological values, we often sit down and talk about the world and how we would change it if we were King. He's a little hard to understand when he gets hot under the collar, and a few months ago the heat was building up.

    He said he immigrated to the USA from Vietnam about the same time the Yanks were making a shameful get-away. He arrived in Houston with a small amount of transferable wealth and a deep desire to be successful.

    Soon as he could, he opened a restaurant supply store; and the first year he was in business, he was disheartened to learn that the IRS was going to take nearly a third of everything he profited and give it away to other American citizens who were born here and had not taken the risk nor put in the same effort as he. He also discovered that even though he could employ his children and deduct their salaries, they had to pay tax on whatever he paid them. He was new here and didn't understand it. In his eyes, since this was a family business and the kids belonged to him, he felt he was getting taxed twice or even three and four times--depending on how many kids he put to work. Furthermore, he felt that it cheapened him in their eyes because he seemed to be passing his tax burden on to them. It made him ashamed.

    So, he got himself a Vietnamese born accountant who specialized in helping countrymen avoid the heavy personal and business taxes, and he learned that he could give a certain amount of cash to his children as long as it was specified as a gift. He still had to pay tax on the amount he gave them, and they still had to pay tax on their earned salaries, but they could receive the smaller "gift" amount and use it without having to report it as income.

    Suddenly he felt better about it because he could now give something to his children without it being taken from them by the government. Oh, how he hated the idea of supporting others whom he saw daily walking the streets or trying to pilfer things from his store.

    But then the most amazing thing happened. His children, having been inculcated with the same work ethic and prudence as he, began using the money they earned--as well as the tax-free gift money--to invest in their
    own private and personal business ventures.

    One son became a partner in a commercial janitorial company, another started a limo service, and a third graduated Chiropractic college. His two daughters likewise have a hairdressing business of their own, and the lone, adult grandson is a successful State Farm agent. The result was that they were all suddenly making lots and lots of money and paying lots and lots of taxes.

    Mr. Tran wanted to pull out his own hair. He couldn't win. It seemed that no matter how hard he and his family worked, and how dedicated they were to building a future for themselves, the government always came in and took much of it away to give to someone else. Woe was him.

    When he moaned this story to me, it was a few days before he was sworn in as an American citizen, and I recall that we were sitting on his spacious patio in this nice, upscale neighborhood far removed from the squalor he had escaped in SE Asia. We were sipping some Oriental concoction; and, of course, I agreed with him that the Federal Income Tax is a burdensome and--in my opinion--unfair structure because it punishes the achiever and rewards the non-achiever. However, I pointed out that nowhere else but in America could he ever dream of receiving such a favorable hard-work/financial-growth ratio.

    "It is our freedom that makes it possible," I said with a polite burp.

    Rather than agree, he said his relatives in Canada have it worse. He said they have to pay higher taxes to cover the cost of free health care.

    "It is big rip-off up there," he said. "I have cousin in Toronto who pay high taxes, but he damn never get sick and use it."

    I shrugged and mentioned the weather, hoping to change the subject; but Mr. Tran was still wound up: "And how come now they want me pay for slaves?"

    © 2002 Tocqevillian Magazine