Thursday, February 15, 2007

Taxes, taxes, oh my!

I think income tax returns during election season ought to provide us with more reason to vote wisely. My jaw just about fell to the ground seeing the summary of my taxes paid this year: what the hell?!

I've worked for five years in the private sector, having stayed with the Single, No Dependent tax bracket - so in essence I've got the biggest hit for taxes of everyone. I pay my bills on time, keep a good credit history, go to work, come home. When I go out with friends, I pay my VAT, the service charge. I tip good service in establishments. Having been given a chance to work abroad like many, I opted not to contribute to the Philippine Brain Drain by staying here in Manila.

Every year I get my ITR, and cringe at the amount of money I'm taxed for: that could've been the downpayment for a new car, or that much could've paid for my brother's tuition, or an MBA for myself. But no, those went to roads that aren't paved, streetlights that don't work, inefficient public servants, red tape in government offices, subsidized tuition for state colleges (where the students rally against government) and junket trips for government employees.

My taxes go to the pork barrel of public officials, where they drive around in their shiny fleet cars, their own personal security detail. Their children go to school in posh universities (maybe even some who go to the state colleges?). They live in villages where there is no traffic, no squatters, and no potholes in the streets. They have a security detail that drives ahead of them and stops traffic. Our public officials are so far removed from reality that it's laughable to hear them debate about integrity, honesty and 'knowing the pulse of the people'.

We see them on TV acting like brats (the recent Ethics committee with Cayetano for one). We hear them on the radio and they can't even piece together a decent sentence. They have poor comprehension skills and can't answer news reporters properly. And, during elections, they jump ship and join where the money is. They join political parties not because of the party platform but because the money is there. Which is why you get strange bedfellows like the Estradas and the Rocos, and Tito Sotto and Tessie Oreta with the Administration candidates. Villar with Erap.

So, you have that, and on another side you also get the celebrity candidates with delusions of grandeur. Philippine politics is tragic enough with the the children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren of old politicos (new family business!). Now we have a new kind of political dynasty: the celebrity-politician.

Which brings me back to being frustrated about my taxes.

I don't mind paying my dues. I am proud to be a Filipino, and I don't intend to leave the country to work elsewhere. So somewhere out there, my taxes are being used to pay for honest government workers. They're being used to pay for public school teachers, policemen, soldiers. But I am seriously having doubts that my taxes are going to the right places and the right people. What with the choices being actors with zero public service experience, boxing champions and has-been singers. The other set are pampered children of older politicians, who've never worked a real job in their entire lives (except maybe to be Daddy's coffee go-girl).

For Pete's sake, where are you, smart voters??! It's our hard work - the silent middle class - that gets this country's economy moving. But it's our apathy and non-participation that gets idiots elected because we don't show up to vote. We don't volunteer. We don't give our two cents' worth in issues that really matter. We must represent this time.

No comments: