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Render Unto Caesar the Things Which Are Caesar’s
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 • Posted July 21, 2009

About 60 miles east of El Paso is, or was, the town of McNary. The town, which consisted of a general store and service station, was bypassed in the 1960s with the advent of Interstate 10 and fell into anonymity and ruin.

Someone has said that the interstates make it possible to drive from New York to California and not see anything. In order to get a change of scenery, back in the 1980s, I used to drive the old highway through McNary. An elderly old gentleman by the name of Leo Threadgill still operated a little gas station and the most fascinating museum of west Texas history and memorabilia that I have ever seen.

Leo was never without the stub of a cigar in one corner of his mouth. He loved to show visitors his collections from the Mexican Revolution, World Wars I & II, Boy Scouts, stuff from the camps of Chinese transcontinental railroad workers, ancient farm implements and tools, etc. He had original Pancho Villa recruiting posters, the bars from the old Presidio jail, and a hat that had belonged to Bat Masterson.

As Leo advanced in age, he had offered his magnificent collection of Texas border artifacts to several towns and individuals. Although many seemed interested, none had the cost of the facilities that would be required to house and display it all.

One day I dropped by and found a team of men in coats and ties meticulously taking inventory of everything on the premises. Leo had passed away. His widow informed me that although nobody seemingly valued the collection while he was alive, it was now necessary to place a dollar value on each and every item so that she could pay an inheritance tax on Leo’s half of the “estate.” In order to pay the tax and keep from going bankrupt in her old age, she would have to sell or auction off everything she and Leo had built up over a lifetime.

“What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not? But Jesus said ...Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s.” (Matt. 22:17-21)

When I was a boy I do not remember any of the wives and mothers in the neighborhood going off to work. Nowadays, if both spouses do not work it is virtually impossible to maintain the middle-class lifestyle to which most of us have become accustomed. Why? Because “Caesar” is taking an ever-increasing bite out of our hard-earned income, often up to 50% of our salaries.

When we think of taxes we usually think of federal income taxes. Think again. Here’s a partial list of the taxes that each of us pays: (Keep in mind that companies do NOT pay taxes, people pay taxes. Whatever taxes a company or other business entity pays, the cost is passed on to us, the consumers): accounts receivable tax, building permit tax, capital gains tax, concealed handgun license tax, driver license tax, cigarette tax, corporate income tax, court fines (indirect tax), dog license tax, federal income tax, federal unemployment tax (FUTA), fishing license tax, food license tax, fuel permit tax, gasoline tax (42 cents per gallon), hunting license tax, inheritance tax, inventory tax, IRS interest charges (tax on top of tax), IRS penalties (tax on top of tax), liquor tax, local income tax, luxury taxes, marriage license tax, Medicare tax, property tax, real estate tax, septic permit tax, service charge taxes, Social Security tax, road use taxes (truckers), sales taxes, recreational vehicle tax, road toll booth taxes, school tax, state income tax, state unemployment tax (SUTA), telephone federal excise tax, telephone federal universal service fee tax, telephone federal, state and local surcharge taxes, telephone minimum usage surcharge tax, telephone recurring and non-recurring charges tax, telephone state and local tax, telephone usage charge tax, toll bridge taxes, toll tunnel taxes, traffic fines (indirect taxation), trailer registration tax, utility taxes, vehicle license registration tax, vehicle sales tax, watercraft registration tax, well permit tax, workers compensation tax, windfall profits tax, tariffs, water district tax, hospital tax, etc., etc., etc.

My wife and I would love to make improvements to our home and little farm. But we know that for every improvement we make we will have to pay increased “rent” to the taxing entities for the rest of our lives. We don’t really own anything. Miss a tax payment or two and the coats and ties will come and take your stuff away.

Yes, Caesar should get his due but just what is he due? Somehow or other we have allowed “our” government “of the people, by the people and for the people” to sock it to the people! If the U.S. Senate passes the “Cap and Trade” bill, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

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