Pro golfer Phil Mickelson has gotten a lot of flak for his recent comments about threatening to make “drastic changes” in his life due to state and federal tax increases. Never mind that he later backed off, saying he should have kept his thoughts to himself and apologized to those he “upset or insulted.”
Mickelson was telling the truth. If there’s anything that should upset or insult Americans, it’s just how much of their money the government takes. Mickelson estimates that more than 60% of his earnings are snatched in federal and state taxes (he lives in California). Should a private citizen, no matter how successful, really owe the government more than half of what he or she makes? Intuitively, this cannot make sense to anyone who believes in the principles of hard work and personal responsibility.
But Mickelson’s comments reveal something far more profound. He was talking about an increasingly complex tax code that also reserves special punishment for small businesses, working families and even the little guys. The rich, like Mickelson, can hire high-priced lawyers and accountants to compute their taxes and take advantage of loopholes. Or, they can pick up and move. The middle class is not quite so fortunate; most cannot simply pick up and move to a better economic climate.