As students, it is trendy and idealistic to be Socialists. It’s just not cool to be a Capitalist while in school. We believe in our leaders and want to help as many people as possible through programs we don’t have to pay for. When we only pay a little or no taxes at all, of course we are fine to vote for expensive government initiatives to help people in need. Then we grow up.
In 2008, California passed a ridiculous $10 billion dollar high speed train project from San Francisco to Los Angles that received overwhelming support from renters. Why? Because the project will be paid for by homeowners through our semi-annual property tax bills. Well surprise, surprise. The project is now estimated to cost $100 billion, or 10 TIMES the original estimate!
It’s important that we all share in the burden of our government corruption, hence the renter’s tax proposal. When you get a bill for something you derive no benefit from, you will naturally vote the other way. Since nobody likes paying taxes (see the comments in the renter’s tax post), we can see how broadening the tax base can help reduce government waste, and lower taxes in the long term!
THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE
After graduation, we start working full-time for a living and witness all the corruption and waste by the government. Many of the idealists turn into Capitalists who want smaller government, or at least, less harmful government. With all the time spent slaving away at work only to give the government more in taxes than we can save for retirement, it’s no wonder the rich and poor start changing their outlook.
Some of us keep our ideals because that is who we are. It’s just interesting to see so many friends from college go from Liberal left to center to staunch Conservatives after they start working. I myself have gone from a protester of corporate malfeasance as a student to a protester of government malfeasance as an employee. I certainly can’t protest my own company or industry since they allowed me to earn a living. Perhaps I just like to protest perceived injustices no matter what stage I am in life?
Now that I’m retired and no longer pay as much taxes, I’m sensing my ideology change once again. I now better empathize with voters who are willing to vote to raise other people’s taxes without being willing to pay more themselves! Retirees depend more on the government and the working public to sustain our lifestyles compared to working individuals. We need multi-billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle to stay in California and pay 11% of his income in taxes and not retire in Lanai, the island that he recently purchased!
If you are working, you obviously want to keep as much money for yourself. When you are retired, you’d love to receive as much money from the government and other people. I’m giving you the honest perspective here given I have experienced both. Now do you see why early retirement is selfish?
NEITHER IS BAD
Some of us are self-sustainable because we had the discipline to save and invest. It is illogical for someone to work 30+ years after school and have nothing to show for. Meanwhile, some of us are lucky enough to collect Social Security and other benefits as part of our retirement. We’ve paid into the system and are just getting our money back.
I’ve always joked to my diehard Liberal friends that I wouldn’t mind being a Socialist when I’m retired, just not when I’m working. Socialism spreads the wealth around equally without equal work. That said, I STRONGLY believe we should level the playing field because the spread between the haves and have nots have widened to mutiny-like levels.
As a poorer man now with no W2 income, I wouldn’t mind having some of those riches transferred my way. I still pay tens of thousands a year in Federal taxes mind you. I just don’t pay six figures in Federal taxes anymore thank goodness.
Always watch what people DO with their money, and not what they say.
Is the analogy: Working is to Capitalism as Retirement is to Socialism correct? Do we all tend to be idealists when we are young, and idealists once again once we are old and/or retired?
Note: This post is not an argument for which ideology is better. This post is to understand both viewpoints and argue that our ideologies CHANGE at different stages in our lives.
Photo: Occupy San Francisco. Tax the rich! 9/2011, SD.