“…and you’re working for nobody but me…” George Harrison
Just plowed through the old tax grind here. Spent several hours chasing down documents, digging through files, double-checking my math.
Cuz I suck at math, you know. How I got through trig in high school is a mystery (let alone statistics and matrix theory in college).
In fact, I’m only half-joking when I say I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the ability to multiply by 8. That entire synapse has just dried up and fluffed away. (I still have vivid memories of squirming in my third grade class during the vicious head-to-head multiplication games the teacher forced us to play. I got tricked more than once with “five times zero”, blurting “FIVE!” before realizing my blunder. Argh!)
This is why one of my first splurges when my career got going was hiring an accountant.
Accountants like numbers. Watching their hands fly across a calculator is something to behold. Looky there — all my money vanishing like dots on a digital screen…
But here’s the thing: The first time I wrote a check to the IRS for an estimated payment… I was actually thrilled to death.
This first quarterly payment was proof that I was — finally — my own man. In my own biz. Paying my own taxes.
No withholding. No payroll check. No timing my bills to The Man’s schedule for doling out my hard-earned dough.
But I enjoyed that thrill alone.
Many of my early gigs as a freelancer were with business owners who considered taxes to be evil, evil, evil. Reagan encouraged them in this hatred — it was a time when government was seen as the problem, and unfettered free enterprise the solution.
The only solution.
I’m not gonna get into it… but after last month’s bailing out of Bear Stearns with taxpayer money (mine!) — because deregulation allowed them to act like four-year-olds with someone else’s piggy bank — I’m gonna slug the next guy who spouts ideological bullshit about the free market being able to regulate itself and fix any problem.
Economics has never been easy to understand, no matter what anyone else tells you. It’s a complex mix of theory, emotion, psychology, greed. con-man tactics, and lots and lots of wishing and hoping.
Oh, and gambling. The entire financial infrastructure of our civilization is essentially a big damn roll of the dice. If everybody woke up tomorrow and decided that paper money was worthless… it would be. Same with gold. And IOUs, and everything else of “value” you can’t eat, use for fuel, or build anything with.
…I was damn proud to start paying my taxes as a rookie freelancer.
This confused nearly everyone I worked with at the time. Especially since I was hip to Ayn Rand and Robert Ringer and a small bit of economic theory…
It was like, I should know better or something.
Back then, it was almost heresy to like paying taxes. A few of my colleagues even became tax rebels, refusing to pay anything under the hazy notion that income tax wasn’t “in” the constitution, and so… blah, blah, blah.
They got in trouble. Ayn couldn’t save ’em.
I kept my thoughts mostly to myself. As a vandal in my formative years, I destroyed lots of stuff. We were removed from the creation of bridges, street lighting systems, even stop signs. So we burned, blew up, cut down and defaced public property like it was a game.
Seriously. It seemed like a game.
I’ve had this idea for a “basic lesson” I’d like to deliver to “pre-vandal” kids in grade school and junior high. In this lesson, I would explain to kids where they “fit” in the culture, and where stuff like street lights and earth-moving equipment came from. Cuz no one ever did it for me.
My theory is that kids are too removed from the creation of the stuff around us. Strangers arrive in uniforms, build and fix shit, and vanish. In earlier times, you may have known the folks who put up the lights (“Hi, Mr. Edison!”), ran the tractors, painted the walls, dug the holes for power lines, etc. (Heck, you may have even been involved — I doubt a kid who helped raise a barn would later vandalize it.)
I got a taste of this when my little town formed a Little League. Parents got together, pooled scarce resources and money, sought out sponsors… and my Pop helped build the freaking baseball field. From scratch. Went out there and leveled the field, cleared the debris and rocks (big rocks in the dirt, too), erected the stands and concession, wired the microphones, poured concrete for the dugouts… all of it.
We treated that diamond like church, too. It was sacred ground.
Slowly, it was dawning on me that anarchy was dumb, and could harsh your mellow.
Building stuff… and (gasp!) even taking care of it… could make life better.
Once I became an entrepreneur, I was ready to step up and be an “owner” of the civilization I was living in. Taxes weren’t “taken out” of my paycheck anymore. Instead, I wrote quarterly checks to do my part in funding the upkeep and creation of local and national crap.
Crap we needed. Like roads, sewers, firehouses, power lines, the whole interconnected mess that kept the lights on, the beer cold, and garbage picked up.
Yep. I’m a proud taxpayer.
I have never forgotten listening in on a heated conversation between a couple of advanced businessmen, back when I first weaseled my way into those kinds of meetings. (Literally smoky back rooms.)
Most of the guys were all pissed off about taxes, hated the thought of paying even a single penny to “the gummit”, and considered the whole thing extortion.
But there was this one guy… the wealthiest and most Zen-centered dude in the group… who just shrugged.
He said — and I remember the sound of his voice — that he made his millions, and paid every penny he owed in tax, when it was due. And slept like a baby, and went about earning another million.
The other guys grumbled and bitched and moaned and agreed with each other that this was the wrong way to go about being a success. You fought with the taxman over everything, smuggled money into hidey holes whenever possible, lied, cheated, played dumb and dumped vast sums into off-shore accounts.
Over the years, I paid attention to who led the better life. No contest.
Off-shore money vanished (“Oops!”)… years were spent wrangling with attorneys and IRS agents… and many sleepless nights ensued.
And I slept like a baby, having taken the rich guy’s advice. And got busy with my career.
No one understands my joy at being able to say I pay for the upkeep of my quirky little town and my staggeringly-big nation. And though the checks I write are pretty damn huge (I quickly got used to paying more in quarterly’s than I used to earn in a year), I do not begrudge Caesar a single coin.
Sure, lots of it is wasted, misspent, stolen and worse.
The world’s a messy place. Choose your battles.
I focus on the never-ceasing wonder of living in a joint where a guy like me — lowly, formerly-clueless, working class me — had the opportunity to grab a seat at the Feast… simply by getting busy and setting goals.
This is an astonishing playground we live in here. Most of the rest of world is agog at our freedoms, and would happily pay twice the tax we dole out just for the privilege of being able to bitch about paying it… and not being jailed or shot in the process.
So pay ’em and forget about it until the next quarter.
You really should be too busy making hay to even notice the money’s gone…
P.S. Important note to anyone who’s been gazing longingly at any of the offers over at www.marketingrebel.com: Every single package there is on the front burner for being taken OFF that site (probably forever).
In particular, the mega-popular “Bag of Tricks” package is about to be retired.
It’s just too good a deal (especially with the personal attention from me included).
We’re not getting greedy, mind you. We’re just getting hip to the structure our new biz model is becoming. And that killer offer needs serious revamping (and higher prices).
However, as long as it’s there on the site, we’ll honor the deal. I’m heading down to San Diego this week to speak at Frank Kern’s spectacular seminar, and I’m kinda focused on the upcoming “17 points of copywriting” workshop just around the corner.
Still, we’ve got geeks scrambling… and as soon as we can, the entire current set of deals at www.marketingrebel.com vanishes. I can’t tell you, right now, what will replace them… but I CAN tell you this: You will never see an amazingly hyper-generous deal exactly like the “Bag of Tricks” again.
So pop over and check it out while you can. This particular “menu” of essential info and tools and skills is what fueled so many of the top marketers now doing their thang online. Just check the testimonials.
We’re not shelving the “Bag of Tricks” to be mean… it’s just time to grow into a new model. Changes online demand it.
Don’t dally. I know you’ve been lusting after that package. I’m announcing it’s demise at the Kern event, and we’ll follow through soon after…
P.P.S. By the way… all incoming comments were disabled last night, due to a technical glitch while our server was upgraded. I know at least a few people emailed me, privately, to tell me they were denied.
Anyway, it’s all working fine now. Fire away, if you like…
"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."
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Tried to leave a message last night, denied. SNAFU, huh? Situation normal, all f*&^&%$ up?
Taxes and servers, out to get us…
You’re happy to pay taxes? So you can dismiss the hassle and get on with making money? That is seriously weird.
Did you know the top 5% of all taxpayers pay 90% of all taxes? Did you know the bottom 50% – half our entire population – does not pay ANY taxes? Not one penny. Yet they consume 80% of all social, entitlement and welfare benefits.
This is not capitalism. It’s called redistribution of wealth. You may know it by another name – socialism. That’s a major reason why the US will soon be joining former major capitalist countries – and world leaders – like Great Britain, France, Germany etc. in the second hand trailer park trash economies of the world.
It’s been proven over and over and over that socialism does not work. Yet, history has proved governments cannot keep their hands out of a proven success story- capitalism.
I laughed at the recent ‘Economic Stimulus Package’. This is like trying to bail out the Titanic with a teacup.
Look, I went to college in the 60’s. I protested against Vietnam. And the man. Been there, done that. But, I grew up and grew a brain. Studied economics. Studied journalism. Other stuff.
I found capitalism is the best economic system for controlling market prices and raising the overall standard of living of the entire population. But continually raising taxes on the productive members of society to give to the non-productive ‘poor’, is the road to ruin.
Being poor in most other countries means drinking water carried from nearby streams. Sleeping on a dirt floor. Eating anything that crawls.
The ‘poor’ in our society have cell-phones, cable TV, so much food it makes them fat, pets they have to feed and – cars! Poor? In many other countries in the world – they would be rich beyond belief!
John- I don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes. But I do mind paying MORE for the same benefits every other member of our society enjoys without paying ANY taxes.
You’ve motivated me. I’ve started a copyrighting school. I know I have a couple control busters. But, I’m $75,000 short. Can you get me one of those minority or disadvantaged grants to` start my business?
Be a happy tax payer folks. Aircraft carrier’s ain’t cheap! For the freedoms we enjoy in this country — the greatest one around — be happy to contribute. I am.
Great post John! Very Rohn-ish.
Hmm… we have it so much better than other countries?
Well, sure… if you’re referring to Uganda or something…
But what can WE do that people in, say, France, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, or Finland can’t do?
Not a damn thing.
In fact, we actually have LESS so-called “freedoms” than many other developed countries.
It’s just that everyone in this country is berated by the media all day long to believe the “USA all the way” mentality from birth till death. Gung ho bullshit if you ask me.
Yeah, I used to be a believer. Then I started learning about other countries and traveling more. Most of the European nations can start the same kinds of businesses we can, and pay a whole hell of a lot less for it.
As Gary Halbert himself once said… “The U.S. is one of the greatest tax shelters in the world… but NOT if you live there.”
(that quote was taken from his Root Canal Seminar, by the way, so I can verify)
I agree with capitalism.
But John brings up a point I’m coming to terms with.
This world is bananas! There have always been people “redistributing” others people money.
Empires come and go.
Tax money is wasted.
We have our own “Sphinxes and Pyramids”.
1000 years ago taxes on a farm ended up buying a catapult for an ancient army….today taxes on e-book sales, will end up buying the computer that guides an ICMB into a terrorists cave.
Same old shit…with more math involved.
I think the only thing you can do to stay sane once you realize the insanity of the world…is to just focus on your life.
Surf the waves…don’t try and stop them.
I don’t agree with taxes either…but perhaps the best way to deal with them is to keep feeding the ravenous beast at our gates. But slowly poison it (or cut its nuts off so it can’t reproduce).
And that means teaching (your close friends and family) how to embrace real freedom…not be afraid of it.
Thanks for the great blog. Was just reading your post and I thought I’d share some information from my perspective.
I’m my opinion the Bear Stearns collapse has very little to do with free markets. Why?
Because the banking industry is not a free market in the first place. And in fact the rules that allowed such bad loans were created by the Federal Reserve and banking regulations, not free markets.
The financial system is specifically designed to go through booms and busts. They set up the rules in a way so that collapses will happen. Bankers can do this with impunity because they know that when things go wrong they will get the congress to raise taxes or they can just print more money to cover the losses. Exactly what they did here.
This is all by design and this has happened many times since the creation of the Federal Reserve. The real idea is to weed out the smallest banks and have a large cartel of banks that work together like a monopoly. This is not a free market at work. It only appears that way.
The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 to stop depressions, recessions and crisis like these. They have been miserable failures at this.
But that is because their stated motive is not the actual motive behind the Federal Reserve.
Even the current Fed Chairman Bernanke admits that it was our monetary policy that caused “The Great Depression.”
You can read his admission from 2004. It’s on the actual Federal Reserve website.
Now I made have misstated a few facts here in my presentation. I’m just trying to give the general direction of what I’ve discovered via an incredible book. I certainly don’t know all of the details of this current collapse.
But if you take a look at this highly documented book, “The Creature From Jekyll Island,” by G. Edward Griffin you’ll see how and why the Federal Reserve was created and what their real motives are. This is not a purely governmental agency but a mixture of government and privately owned interests.
The book is detailed and highly documented and I guarantee you’ll not be the same person you were after reading it. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read on history. You’ll see how the bankers love wars because they finance both sides. You’ll see how the bankers purposely got us into World War 1 and planned the sinking of the Lusitania with Winston Churchill.
This article gives an idea of what I’m talking about though this is covered in much more detail and with more references in “The Creature From Jekyll Island.”
1913 was also the year we were “blessed” with an income tax. Have you ever thought of this?
By filling out an income tax form you can actually be incriminating yourself in a court of law. This is in direct violation of the fifth amendment. Not to mention all of the other ways the income tax is unconstitutional.
In any case, even free markets need rules. The problem with the current banking system is that it’s anything but a free market. The Federal Reserve artificially setting interest rates is an example of that.
And quite frankly I think banking as it’s currently practiced is unethical and should be made illegal. What other business can you have only one million of your own money but loan out ten million?
All bankers can literally create money out of thin air. They earn interest on money they never had. I believe they should only be allowed to loan exactly the money they have. That would stop the collapses immediately.
Our whole financial system as currently comprised is corrupt and will eventually collapse because it’s based on no real assets. Our money is based on paper and as long as we can continue to expand the money supply indefinitely we can continue to degrade the value of the dollar and eventually destroy it completely.
This printing of billions of extra dollars is an invisible tax that we all must pay.
In my opinion, the only way to have any legitimate understanding of politics is to understand the current banking and financial system. You can get a great education on that with the book I mentioned above.
Beware, what you read will fly in the face of most conventionally taught history. But that is because history is written by the people who are secretly behind the controls.
Slug me if you want John, but the market CAN fix itself – when ALLOWED to. The market allows firms that gambled and lost to fail, and rightfully so.
Bailouts with stolen money are NOT part of the free market – they are government interference in the market. Big difference.
Do you still read Ringer these days?
How about Larken Rose?
Just because people “got in trouble” for not paying taxes doesn´t mean they are supposed to pay taxes.
I hate to call one if my marketing idols a blind patriot, but I will say you’re vision is a little distorted by nostalgia of the way things once were.
The truth is our tax funded public schools are churning out some of the stupidest kids in the world. Little multiple choice robots who are going to be chrushed in the global marketplace by billions of smart, creative, and hungry Chinese and Indian’s
What about our Welfare system. There was a time when people were utterly embarrassed to be on government assistance, probably around the time your Dad built that baseball field. Not today. Now they make rap songs bragging about getting a free check on the first of the month.
Yeah, seeing some fat cow with a new leather jacket and six inch finger nails whip out some food stamps in the grocery store makes me want to stand up and solute old glory.
While were at it we might as well get some more amenities for our prisons, after all I’d hate to see those poor murders and rapists be the least bit uncomfortable during their stay.
And then we got foreign aid. The USA is the pathetic friend to the world, you know the kid back in high school you used for money and his car but made fun of him behind his back and never invited him to parties. We are sending billions of tax dollars to countries who are turning around and helping other countries try to kill us.
I’m sick of Americans having to play Atlas supporting the rest of the world. If people in Africa want to stop the spread of AIDS and stop starving children then STOP HAVING SEX! Maybe I should put that in a power point presentation so I could win a Nobel prize.
“Most of the rest of world is agog at our freedoms, and would happily pay twice the tax we dole out just for the privilege of being able to bitch about paying it”
What? Most of us are already forking over 50%+ to the government how the hell can you double that? Unless of course you’re talking about the deadbeats of the world, Yeah they can’t wait to hop on the tax funded gravy train and sink their teeth into a juicy welfare check, subsidized housing, public school for their 10 kids, and the soon to be “free” healthcare.
The doers of the World want no part of America.
Have you looked at corporate taxation in the rest of the World? Here’s a hint, it’s much lower then it is here. The rest of the World gets it. They know that talent and money go where they’re most welcome, and right not the US is all about bleeding successful people dry. You know this is true, just ask 10 random people on the street what they think about people with money and you’ll hear nothing but vicious hatred and contempt.
And these are the people who elect our government officials, who in turn set forth to let thy will of the people be done. The people say Kill The Rich.
Sorry John, I am not happy to pay taxes.
John – I remember when you told me to be proud of having a big tax bill, many years ago… and it struck me as odd at the time, because I really hate paying huge taxes… I almost get physically ill writing 5-figure estimated quarterly checks to the IRS lol..
But you were right, as usual. Over the years now, it’s come to be a sign that I’m doing things right, that financial success is there, as gauged by a big tax bill … the key is always adding to the top line, so the bottom line/expenses/taxes are less of a concern. Now I’m paying bigger tax bills than ever before, and I don’t sweat it. I play it straight so I too can ‘sleep like a baby’ and focus instead on building the business.
And for those on the fence, I highly encourage you to get John’s offer; I’ve gotten at least a 20x ROI on every buck I’ve spent on working with John, he’s on the real short list of people worth “going deep” into learning from. A genuine key to success.
To huge tax bills (and even bigger profits),
Seems you’ve hit a nerve! Way to go.
What I heard you say is the first time you did a quarterly was similiar to someone telling you need to shave, first time took the car on a date, voted in a presidental election–growing up, but larger. You put yourself and your ideas on the street and got enough validation from the marketplace you had to file a quarterly. Here’s to hoping the quarterly wasn’t the high point of the celebration though.
Warren Buffet says the government is our partner in every business endeavor so budget him in. The government’s take though is a percentage, instead of flat fee, so that helps. Our elected folks, I believe, know who butters their bread so they walk a tightrope of buying votes with entitlements for non-producers and taxing producers. But when taxing producers, the elected create loop holes to help offset.
Since I can have just one thought at a time, I choose unlimited bounty.
Keep up the good work,
I thought the story of your childhood vandalism was great. I remember the sorted recklessness from my days of youth also.
But as time would have we age abit and develop this responsibility thing.
And now we want to help, and do the right thing. I’m not sure what to think of the thought of being happy paying taxxes.
But I look forward to the day when paying taxes makes me sleep better.
Thank for the insightful story, and the writing lesson