Shortly after starting work at the Wisconsin Statehouse I talked with my Dad about a way to save some money on his state taxes. With the 100 acres my parents owned, and the large number that were forested, they were a prime candidate for the woodland tax credit. Decades later when my father was sick and nearing the end of his days we talked again about all sorts of things, including the woods located south of the house. He told me never once did he take the tax credit for those acres, the same credit we had talked about so long before.
I was rather surprised and expressed as much. It was a perfectly legal and appropriate way to file his yearly return. When asked why the credit was never used he said it did not feel right. He loved the woods, took care of them, and felt he did not need to be compensated for it by the state.
The general theme was one I had heard often in our home. My Mom spoke of how she wanted him to take advantage of the G.I. Bill following the war. He had told her it was enough for him that he had made it back home. That was really how my Dad operated and lived his life.
I bring this all up now as earlier this week it was reported Donald Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he were audited.
I do not wish to make this post partisan as that really is not the basis for why I write it. I think what this post showcases is the quality of character–or lack thereof–that dots our landscape. It is true writing objectively about my Dad can be called into question. But the facts of what I say are honest about him and also of Trump. And readers surely know someone much like my Dad and can switch names in this post and come to the same place.
The get-all-we-can cut-throat world that so many partake in, and that we read about every day is most real. But what we do not know on a daily basis are those folks who play not only by the rules but also live by a higher standard. Again place any name you want into that mix–other than my Dad–as I know there are so many that would apply.
I simply detest the corporate ladder world and the players who work at every angle to save a dollar in taxes and never seem able to recognize the need to share burdens as neighbors and citizens. I simply reject that way of thinking and living. Give me the guy in the rusted Ford who pays for the next in line behind him at McDonalds. (That happened to me a couple weeks ago following a doctor’s appointment.) He waved and drove off leaving me with a large hot coffee. And then I paid for the car behind me.
That is the type of man my Dad was and the type of person Trump by his own actions has proven not to be. Perhaps what is needed in this land are more of the old-fashioned traits that does not make one more financially stable but would leave our country nonetheless richer in a way that can not be measured with a dollar sign.