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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Let's Play a Game Called Who Can Be the Biggest Douche, AKA Tax Return Time

I'm constantly telling my twins, "look, when you give something away, it's no longer yours. It belongs to the person you gave it to, and you should be happy you were able to make them so happy." Sharing is a big deal in this house, and it's hard. I get it. You don't want to give away what you think is yours. And when I make them share, it's as if this big unfair, stupid hand is forcing them to do what they least want to do. Then they're supposed to be happy about it. (Or at least shut up about it.) But, they're living in my house, and we have a system and to live here peacefully, we all have to obey the rules of that system. Sure they can tantrum about it. But that just makes them look silly, selfish, and like babies.

With that said, I give you this:

What is it about tax return time that turns people into such jerks? Do we not understand how taxes work? If you got $500 back, and someone you know who "doesn't work as hard" gets thousands back, you realize that if they got less back, you still wouldn't get more back, right?

As much as we hate to believe it in the "It's mine, all mine, it should ALL be mine" frenzy that is tax return season, the system we have in place is there for a reason, and when we sign up to make our living in the United States, we sign up to give up a lot of our money into the system. The poor people aren't stealing your money, middle-class folks. Again we're caught up in blaming the wrong people.

If you have children, you get more money back. Because you need it. I know that people without children think they need it, too, but this is the exact reason we don't all rule ourselves in little kingdoms of one. If you want to change the tax brackets, change them up not down. More money should be put in from those at the top (sorry, dudebros, success sucks a little bit, but here's a secret: It doesn't suck nearly as much as failure), not less being taken out by the bottom.

And remember, please remember, it's not your money and poor people didn't take it from you.

The government takes it to provide a nice society for all of us, and depending on your particular needs any given year, they give you some of it back because lol, oops, we accidentally took all your money and held it hostage all year.

Here's the second part, if someone is ever lucky enough to bring in thousands of dollars in tax return money, you don't get to be the tax return police.

Repeat after me: It is not your business what other people spend their money on.

I already know what you are going to say so here:

1) It is their money. Period. I don't care if you think they "earned" it or not. You don't get to make that call. If you want to make that call, go become the head guy of the IRS or something. You don't get to decide who deserves money and who doesn't just because you're someone's neighbor or aunt or pseudo-friend.

2) It's not your business even if you (wrongly) think they're using money you personally put into the system. It is a gift. We are sharing. These people need it. You don't get to give and then cry about it without looking silly, selfish and like a baby. (see above).

Images like the ones above are inflammatory hyperbole, meant to section the middle-class against the poorer classes. And they work easily because those in different classes, even in the United States have no idea how the other people live. We live and breathe the stereotypes given those people.

Earlier in the week, I was involved in a "discussion" about this image on facebook. Many people agree with this picture and raise their hands all rah-rah style about how effed up it is that poor people get to have new phones and toys and clothes at tax return time, when they (the working middle class) are stuck with the same old iPhone model they've had for two whole years now.

I want to dissect a bit of the argument here, in hopes that you will change your mind about whether or not it is your business when a poor person buys their child a tablet or takes a trip to Disney World on their tax return money. I will use real things said in that FB thread to preserve the reality and ensure I'm not putting words in the other side's mouth. They are unchanged in spelling, grammar and sense-making.

Argument 1:

"theres some ppl down the street who have 3 kids all different dads, the wife is a waitress and the step dad is hiding on the sofa waiting on an insurance settlement so, as the 10 yr old tells me they can be rich... they got 7k back in taxes,,, the mom took pics of all the kids holding the money on a tablet and the kid showed me... and like most ghetto folk, they all got there nails and hair did, went clothes shopping and of coarse they all got new phones... instead of fixing up there shitty house.. or saving for a new car or something.."

1) Three kids, all different dads. We're talking about tax returns here. This information about paternity is unnecessary. It holds no meaning in terms of how much money the woman receives for care of her children. It serves only to strengthen the poverty-stricken, single-mom-whore stereotype, and provides a mediocre means for snap judgments. Can't keep your legs shut? Clearly don't deserve money to care for your kids. Since OBVIOUSLY they are unwanted mistakes that you made because you're stupid and wanton. Only that's not the case at all, and shut the hell up. Jesus.

2) The step-dad is hiding on the sofa waiting on an insurance settlement. Okay, first of all, how do you hide on a sofa? My kids tried that when they were little and I, like, found them every damn time. Secondly, this is rather vague and non-sensical. Like, so what? He's not allowed an insurance settlement? You think insurances are just bending over backward trying to give money to people? If he's getting a settlement, he's most likely legitimately injured in a way that even insurance companies have to acknowledge. So why won't you? I give you a D- for trying to insinuate laziness and lack of desire to work without actually knowing anything about the situation and mixing stereotype with something you think you saw or heard.

3) so, as the 10 yr old tells me they can be rich. You know what rich means to a poor ten year old? Rich means he can fucking afford school lunch, yo. Do not use a child's definition of wealthy to determine how much or little a family who "doesn't deserve it" is going to pull in from their "obviously shady insurance dealings". Secondly, any damn thing comes out of kids' mouths, dude. My kids will walk around telling strangers on the street we're poor because I wouldn't buy them a Tootsie Pop. Chill.

4) the mom took pics of all the kids holding the money on a tablet and the kid showed me... and like most ghetto folk, they all got there nails and hair did, went clothes shopping and of coarse they all got new phones... instead of fixing up there shitty house.. or saving for a new car or something. Yes, God forbid poor people get to post pictures of something nice they got. They not only don't deserve to buy it, they certainly don't get to show their friends that they're attempting to live a real-person life. And those tablets won't teach the children how to function in the technological age, those phones won't be used to upload resumes or conduct job interviews, the hair and nails certainly won't help them look presentable to a potential employer. Ever hear of "Dress for Success"? Not to mention, in order to make life-long, durable changes, people need the self-confidence to do it. No one is going to be able to succeed if they feel like a piece of shit all the time. And "ghetto folk"? "Most ghetto folk?" GTFO.

Now, let's say these people really did get $7K back in taxes. Why should they throw it into a house that is falling apart? That's a money suck. They would get literally nothing for that money if they sunk it into their house. "Saving for a new car." New cars cost at least $20K. Where are they going to get the rest of the money for that? They could buy a used one, but then that one will break and you'd still judge them for their shitty car. Oh, and if they did get a new one? You'd judge them for getting a new car. They cannot win.

Argument 2: 

"u guys obviously live surrounded by suburbia bliss and think everyone on maury is an actor... when you already have an iphone and buy the latest one..not just for you but your 10 and 11 yr old kids have a new iphone... mean while their teeth are rotting out their heads and crooked...  . . . and I have nothing against being a waitress.. i was one for 6 years... the thing is i never meet a single one that claims all their tips that's why they get more back if they have kids... its looks like they make minimum wage... come spend a day in new orleans and just people watch.. 4yr old kids in diapers playing in a garbage can and dirty street water living in a roach infested apt. w/ no a/c while dads in jail and mom is on every assistant program there is dressed to the T. herself.. hair, nails designer clothes... arguing out side w/ some man cussing up a storm calling the little kids all kinds of horrid names in front them.. idk how many times me and another neighbor called cps on those ppl.... and every time the cops came to pick up one of the parents or revive the mom for a drug overdose for the 6th damn time, they never once took the kids... i guess the system doesn't care about black kids..."

1) u guys obviously live surrounded by suburbia bliss and think everyone on maury is an actor. Not sure how sticking up for people in a low tax bracket equals suburbia bliss, to be honest.

2) mean while their teeth are rotting out their heads and crooked..Bad teeth are genetic, not necessarily linked to poverty, but caring for bad teeth takes much more time and money than an iPhone. $5,000 for braces, another $5,000 for teeth pulled, root canals, crowns, etc. Remember they probably don't have dental insurance and all that is due up front. Plus, it's a process whereby they have to get to the dentist routinely, during working hours, and spend hours getting things tightened, adjusted and fit right. Plus, it's a risk, because each time, that shit costs more money, and being poor, the tax return money will most surely be gone well before the three years of teeth repairs are done, and then how are they going to pay for it?

3)  and I have nothing against being a waitress.. i was one for 6 years... the thing is i never meet a single one that claims all their tips that's why they get more back if they have kids... its looks like they make minimum wage... That's because they do. I wouldn't claim my tips, either. Restaurants pay well below minimum wage to account for this. Don't worry about the restaurants. They're getting theirs.

4) I'm not even touching that last bit because eff you. I require citation. I've been to New Orleans, I've walked in the bad areas. Citation needed, please. What I will say is this:

You're right, the system doesn't care much about black kids. It's a huge problem and one you complaining about them getting money you don't get isn't going to fix.

Argument 3: (when told it's not her business)

"it is if your kids are at my house asking for food and other shit... your right next time i'll tell them, look your hungry go home its not my business... i see a dude screaming at a 3 year old to shut the fuck up or he'll beat the piss out of him..i'll just mind my business.. and when he kills the kid i will feel perfectly fine having not done something sooner...just like u... uh no... look you live in your bubble of selfishness and i'll watch out for the kids.."

1)  your right next time i'll tell them, look your hungry go home its not my business... You need to pick a side, middle class. Either you care about the welfare of the children or you do not. But threatening to start withholding the food you obviously begrudge the children you're giving it to because some people on the internet told you it wasn't your business what the family spent their tax money on is asinine and ludicrous and makes you look like the worst of both worlds. Either you want them to have food and money or you don't. This goes triple for the assault situation. You're mixing your arguments and trying to muddy the point and it does not behoove you. If the people are bad off, and you're that mad about them.

This reply on the thread says it better than I can:

"If you're going to extend a helping hand to kids that's great but if you can't do it without being a judgmental asshole about their parents then you're really not doing them any favors, you're just doing what you can to make yourself feel better for being a judgy douche. I was one of those kids, and I know how it feels to have someone "helping," me while judging the fuck out of my mother for our shitty station in life and guess what, I HATED people like you growing up, even if they were trying to "help" us. You know what it did? It made me not want to ask anyone for help. Ever. Because I knew that they were going to judge us."

After going back and forth over this for a long chunk of primo Oscar-watching time, the final comment ends with this:

i have a 100$ phone.. a cracked nook and drink wine out the box... but my house is paid for.. no mortgage..and so are both my cars... so there is a bit of info for you all to make assumptions about... have fun with it..

All of that judgement, that hate, that vitriol, all of that incredibly hardened and stereotyping all comes down to her being angry that she has to live with a $100 phone, a cracked nook and boxed wine. And her husband works 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for them to be able to afford even that, according to her.

And that's it. That's it right there. That's what's wrong with everything. The middle class has nothing, gets nothing, is nothing. And someone, somewhere, convinced them to blame it on the poor people.

You are fighting the wrong enemy. Look up, not down. It's the extremity of the capitalist society that has whittled away the last shreds of middle-class dignity. It's the exorbitant tax breaks and ridiculous tax write offs of the rich that contribute to this, not the attempt to dole out what is left fairly, in accordance to tax bracket and income.

Your boxed wine isn't your neighbor's fault, dude. It's your husband's boss's boss's. Let's start there. Can we go back to the beginning of it all and just start there?



  1. You know what's strange? I have no phone, no nook, and I don't drink wine. I drink water. From the tap. Like a G. Because that's all I can afford. Does that mean I get to be a dick to poor people, too?

  2. When I started being poor, I started noticing how everyone around me was busy marking their status. I'm poor, but I don't live in a crackhouse. I'm poor, but at least I'm not a meth addict. People take pride in anything they can and kick the next less well off person. The person you were arguing with was fighting not to be poor, and you're right, 100%--someone convinced them that they're paying for the poor people to have a better life than she does.

  3. One day, I'll learn to put my own smug and imperious BS attitude about people who can't be bothered to punctuate their social media shares correctly, or God forbid capitalize the proper noun "I." Today was not that day. You gave way more time and thought to people I would have blown off as ignorant P.O.S. and managed to make something constructive out of it. Well done.



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