The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Slavery is a practice that virtually all people find morally and ethically abhorrent. I’d contend that the most sacred gift we are given as human beings is the natural and absolute right to our lives.

In other words, you are owned by you. Working for someone else and toward someone else’s goals represents a sharp departure from the idea that we should write the story of our lives, reap the rewards of our hard work and be treated equally in the eyes of the law.

In light of the fiscal cliff debacle, fresh debates over whose income should be taxed, and at what rate, give us a chance to pause and reassess taxes.

The new year also gave us all a chance to reassess our figure. Anyone looking for a gym buddy? Lol.

Just in case you were living under a rock this holiday season, higher payroll taxes were renewed for all Americans (resulting in 2 percent less take home pay per year). And individuals earning over $400,000 ($450,000 for families)[PDF] face higher rates — sorry, Roy. Anyone else anticipating less spending and investment in 2013?

The fruits of our labor, wages and profits are rewards for providing a product or service that some other person(s) appreciated enough that they were willing to pay for it.

UNC students and recent graduates will enter the workforce and, hopefully, provide meaningful and productive efforts towards the advancement of society.

Getting an understanding of how much of that work belongs wholly and exclusively to you provides for interesting thought experiments.

The average American earning about $40,000 pays an effective tax rate [PDF] just north of 25 percent.

Let’s play out a fun scenario. Jessie graduated a few years ago and is using a degree in journalism to work at the newspaper in town. Assuming Jessie pays a 25 percent tax rate, one-quarter of the fruits of her labor goes into someone else’s pocket. What this means is that for 25 percent of the year, January through March, she is not working for herself.

Hurricane Sandy recently wreaked havoc on the Northeast. Imagine if, instead of taxing Jessie, she were sent to New Jersey for three months to help with the hurricane relief.

Could the government require Jessie spend her time that way? Is this in any way different from taking the product of three months’ worth of labor?

Further, how much of your income does the government own? Could you be taxed at a 100 percent rate?

Of course, neither taxes nor slavery are new concepts. Politicians are leeches — we all know this — and throughout history, rulers and leaders have worked tooth and nail to control the wealth of the nation.

Debates over whether the ends justify the means will continue, but, as far as I’m concerned, taxes indicate your work belongs to the collective.

In the end, we may be paying higher taxes upon graduation, but at least we have low-interest student loans.

Thanks, Obama.

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