Today was a very humbling day for me, as it was my first payday. I had assumed, at least prior to employment, that I'd be paid for my services via invoice, or that I would be paid by the day, or whatnot. So I waited, hoping to see the results of my labour. To my dismay, it was not as I had anticipated.
According my calculations, there should be 18 hours on this paycheck, to which this stub attached to this piece of paper that represents my stock in bank funds for payment, summarizes rightfully. At $6.90 an hour (my opening wage), that would total roughly $124.20. My paycheck, however, says something to the extent of $97. This is nearly $27 missing. This was very confusing, I wondered if perhaps the Pantry had not honored it's pay summary, but Daniel told me my check stub would explain everything.
Daniel: You see, this total here, is your Social Security tax, this is your State Income Tax, this is your Federal Income Tax, oh, and this here, that's Medicare...
Me: What? Tax? What manner of tax is this? I did not meet or agree with a tax collector to these sums. Where is the tax authority so I may speak to them about the nature of these taxes?
Daniel: Well, there is none, really. We have tax collectors but it's not like they come to your door, well, they do, but that's like the IRS when they do an audit. But they only bust on you if you don't file your income taxes.
Me: I don't understand, you mean there is no public office for the local tax collectors? This seems fairly unjust. I don't understand how the state or federal authorities have the ability to do this. Medicare, is that a tax too?
Daniel: Hey dude, relax. I got taxed like that too, all the time. It comes straight out of your paycheck, it's no big deal. You get some back at the end of the year too, if you don't make too much and file your income taxes.
Me: Let me get this straight. You are required to file forms that would testify against yourself towards criminal neglect of a tax direct on your income. Isn't this act of compelling one to bear witness against himself a breach of the 5th Constitutional Amendment, not to say amonst other things, since it doesn't seem like it's very orderly and rather arbitrary like the imposition of a British Monarch?
Daniel: How should I know? I don't have that memorized. Of course it's Constitutional, someone would've said something about it if it wasn't. Don't worry about it so much, that's the way it's always been.
Me: No, I will worry about it. My time here is wasted if I don't use it to observe the way things are. I'm very suspicious of the practices of this new government and only seek and endeavor to understand more about it before I have to return to my own time. Maybe I can do some good. But this makes no sense to me whatsoever. Are these taxes apportioned equally amongst the states?
Daniel: Apportioned? Way over my head, dude.
Me: Well, you know, divided amongst the representatives.
Daniel: Oh yeah, they give themselves pay raises all the time.
Me: I don't think you quite understand. How is the tax used? This tax, the Social Security tax on my income, what is it?
Daniel: Well, it is used to pay a bunch of old people for their retirement and pills.
Me: It's simply taxed from me to fund the retirement pension of the elderly? I don't know exactly how this system works today, but to the best of my understanding I can assure you that this is not how it was meant to work. I bet my tax money even goes to pay your pensions of unemployment. I wonder if I even pay a tax to feed the poor women without food and bread for her children, a tax to pay taxmakers to legislate more taxes, and a tax to teach people how to pay their taxes on time!
Daniel: Well, yeah, that seems about right.
I gave up trying to understand the system for tonight, but it is clear to me that now employers are mandated to be federal and state level tax collectors, and that conventional tax collecting agents specialize only in investigating deliquency of filers, and that each person is required to keep personal records the purpose of government scrutiny. This makes me understand why each of us are meant to keep identification papers and cards, and why some of the employment processes required so much information.
What I don't understand is why it came to that degree of oppressive taxation. The British were never that meticulous. I hope to do some more research into this, and it is definitely a point of interest for the letter to Congress I have planned.
Daniel gave me some slack on my debt, since this was my first paycheck, and only requested three fourths as opposed to 80%. The remainder of what he left me was something to the order of $24. This should be plenty, he reassured me. He also requested that I stay at home tomorrow for the morning for the satellite installation guy. According to him, satellite is important to modern-day lifestyles. He describes them as objects which float up in the outer reaches of space, to transmit sports broadcasts and "HBO". I am totally lost as to how this works or what he means, so I will just do as he suggests.
On another note, I met up with Miss C. again at the local library. I presented my dilemma to her, asking for her input.
Miss C.: You look bothered, what's wrong?
Me: Well, I just got paid for the first time, and the taxes confuse me. It seems like a lot sometimes.
Miss C.: I know what you mean. Those taxes are always being misused too. They are installing a new pool over at our high school, the third one, yet here in the elementary classes we are short on calculators. It seems to me that it's just prone to misuse, oh, and did you know the county passed a tax of it's own on workers in the county? All this money comes in but I don't think it ever really gets passed the teacher's union and the school board. But don't let me be the one to tell you that.
Me: Sometimes it's just so hard for me to fully understand what's going on, confusing to live here, in the very least.
Miss C.: I would presume it'd be a hard adjustment, but you lived in France, isn't it quite the same over there?
Me: Well, I worked and lived in a small villiage, Paris was quite the ways away, it wasn't the same really.
Miss C.: Ah, oh well. Listen, don't let it get you down. If you worry about silly things like taxes too much, you'll never stop worrying. The only reason I voted for Bush to get into office was because of that tax cut, but it seems no matter who comes in, taxes go up and so does the deficit. It's like they go hand in hand. Aren't taxes higher in France, though?
Me: I suppose so, I never gave it much thought.
I couldn't continue the conversation much longer, or I'd expose myself to her, and I really value her as a source of information. That and I enjoy the goodness of her company. Regardless, I'll continue to report the ongoings of this week for my personal records. The people of the Enternet seem to be the few I can entrust my records to without warranting abuse.
Your humble servant & truly affectionate friend,
- Thomas Jefferson