William Thien

Archive for January 2015

As tax time approaches once again I wanted you to read one of my most popular essays, America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird. I have debated often about socialism and communism in The United States and how socialism and communism are implemented through the tax code and in that way their effects are less obvious, though still pernicious. I will be talking a lot about America’s tax code in the next couple of months. To my friends and colleagues who utilize the tax breaks I speak of, I say, use them. Don’t feel guilty for my meager commentary on what is unfair about them. Were I in your shoes, I would do the same. But know they must change. The tax code must be made fair. It was in fact the unfair tax code during colonial times that led to the formation of this country and I don’t see that things should ever change in that regard.

America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird

An associate of mine was telling me that he had received a substantial tax refund this year and when comparing it to mine I was rather surprised as it was many thousands of dollars more. During the time that we have worked together, he has received close to a year’s salary in total tax refunds more than I. That’s substantial and a bit of an insult to me since we have the same position and are paid exactly the same. We are not businessmen so we do not have a large number of operating costs we can write off. We both make the same amount of money. He is married, I am not, but that was only a minor difference. The major difference between his tax return and mine was that he has five children.

On his tax return each of his children represented a large deduction to his earnings and as a result, he received a substantially larger tax refund than I did. At first I thought, OK, raising children is expensive these days, why shouldn’t he get some help from the government (that’s us the taxpayers, by the way)? But then the thought occurred to me (I didn’t tell him and I hope he doesn’t read my blog) that his children are going to public schools and at times he has used public services for medical support of his family. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. It is good that we offer the best public education in the world and can provide medical support to families in need.

But to give him a tax break substantially larger than mine when in fact he uses more public services than I do, uses more services in a substantially greater amount than I do, seems like foolish and definitely unfair tax policy. What is essentially happening is that I am paying for his children to attend school and to obtain free health care. The tax break, the deduction that he receives is possible because I do not receive the tax break. In essence I am paying to raise his children. That’s how they offer him a tax break. They take it from me in some way or another and give it to him in the form of a deduction.

In the region of the country where I live there is a bird that lays its eggs in the nests of other birds and then lets the other birds rear their young. The name of the bird is The Brown Headed Cowbird. It sneaks up to another bird’s nest when the other bird is away foraging and deposits its egg in the other bird’s nest. When the bird that is out foraging returns to the nest, more often than not they simply begin incubating the Brown Headed Cowbird’s egg along with their own and then they rear the fledgling as if it was their own. Sometimes the host bird can’t raise its own and is only able to raise the fledgling of the Brown Headed Cowbird due to diminished resources in that vicinity and the voracity of the Cowbird fledgling.

It occurs to me that much like the unwitting bird who is rearing the Brown Headed Cowbird’s egg, the invader’s egg, a parasite as defined by ornithologists, I am paying to raise the children of others. If you ask me, that is unfair tax policy. Some might say, well that’s just the way it is, and I myself, I’m not certain I have a problem with that really.

But perhaps many of the problems we have with balancing governmental budgets, many of the problems we have with massive abuses of the huge system of entitlements we have in this country stems from the perception that people have originating from the tax code. Can we afford to have another child? Heck yea! It’s a tax break! And as families have more and more children using more and more government services, we as a country are at a loss for how to pay for those services used because we in fact give people a tax break for using them. In a sense, that is what is happening. And similar tax policies apply to corporations as well for conducting certain types of business or using certain types of resources, natural resources even.

No business in their right mind pays people 100 percent of the cost of their products to purchase their products. You will not find one truly successful business that says, “we will give you five dollars for every hamburger you buy from us.” Instead of you paying us, we will pay you. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Until of course it comes time to pay all those people behind the counter, the servers, the ones cooking the food, the maintenance people. Where is the money? Well, boss, we gave it to the customers. Well, where are they? Get the money back! They are at the restaurant across the street eating with the money we gave them. Well whose harebrained idea was it to give them the money in the first place?

It seems to me that if we want to balance the country’s budget and the budgets of all of the states and municipalities we need realistic tax codes and policies that address budget disparities, tax policies that somehow seek payment for services used and not payment to the users, particularly the Brown Headed Cowbirds of America.

It’s only fair.

Or, how about this? Do you have a Brown Headed Cowbird living in your back yard? Check this box for your standard Brown Headed Cowbird deduction, and if you are a corporation, double the deduction.

Copyright © William Thien 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

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Recently I blogged:

Who would have thought the job of a political cartoonist would become one of the most dangerous professions in the world? On Dec 22 I wrote this:” How many times have we heard in the last ten years about Muslim fundamentalists beheading Americans and foreigners because of a small, square cartoon in some obscure foreign newspaper which depicts Islam negatively? We live in the electronic age. It’s only moments before someone will see something half way around the world.”
Look how the media has set its teeth to the massacre in Paris. I could have told you something like this was going to happen. Oh, hold it. I did. I hate to say it, but…
Freedom of speech and the press is one thing. Constantly poking fun at someone’s devotion is another entirely.


Headlines from Today’s various news sites range from 10 Dead, Churches burned, Leave Gaza, you French, or You Will be Slaughtered, to photographers being shot in Pakistan.

I blogged previously on December 22, 2014 that such reprisals should be expected if various media outlets and other such related entities continue to speak of the leadership of both foreign countries and other religions in such a disparaging manner. I concluded that it is unwise to behave in such a manner and that media outlets and related entities, even those in the entertainment world should not be expected to be insulated at taxpayer expense when only a handful of the readership shares such sentiments, even if a majority do. Then of course, the reprisal at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo occurred.

From where I am I find it difficult to side with any media outlet that wishes to defame anyone, even an individual in such a manner and profit from doing so, and then that media outlet expects to walk away unscathed. In fact in France, there are certain “hate speech laws” that prevent such behavior except they were not enforced with regard to Islam. The error lies not only in insulting Islam in such a manner, the error lies in the fact that right there in their own neighborhoods reside devout Muslims in large numbers. No measured discourse was occurring, rather, Charlie Hebdo was repeatedly poking fun at Islam and the Prophet Muhammad when we have seen time and time again that the more devout members of The Muslim faith respond directly to that type of defamation of their faith, often violently.

I believe in free speech. But little of value can be gained from mocking and constantly poking fun at someone’s devotion in such a manner. Nothing lasting in an attempt at peace can be gained from that ultimately except more enemies.

Personally, I don’t find fault with the current administration for not addressing the matter in presence at the latent moment.

But the persistence I see now with the increase in the sales of such periodicals that do mock one of the world’s largest religions in a manner which is not constructive is to me an omen.

Now, more than ever ladies and gentlemen, we must take heed.

With regard to the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo, there can be no question that the day put a smile on somebody’s face and I am not so sure I can’t say I blame him.

Did I not warn you?

Copyright © William Thien 2015

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January 2015
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