It’s tax season…

Standard

Today’s the deadline for individuals to present their tax declarations. Since I try to be a good citizen I went ahead and met that deadline. I’ve submitted and reported on every cent earned and I have met the obligations established by our government.

Every year when I have to do this I get the exact same feeling: I get sick to my stomach. I hate the fact that on this day I see the exact amount of shitload of money that I rightfully earned, go into the government’s purse and get lost faster than my socks get lost in the wash (yeah, that’s another big mystery).

On average, I work around 50 hours a week. I make sure I keep updated on all relevant information that will help me add value to my function and help my company succeed. If I do my job right, the socially responsible conglomerate I work for will do better. If it does better, it will grow. If it grows, it means it creates more jobs and adds more value. It creates more wealth, attracts investment and keeps the economy going. It puts more food on more tables of more mexican families.

Abiding by the established laws is part of my job. It is one of the many ways in which our company shows its commitment to the country… so yeah, I have to pay my taxes and be one of the very few captive taxpayers. Here are some of the reasons why it is so hard to actually go through with this:

  • While I pay taxes a huge informal sector does not have to… and they probably never will because no Mexican government has had the balls to do what they should have done a long time ago: flat tax on consumption. Instead, we have an unfair, unequal bracket system that rewards mediocrity. The worst part is that since it is politically effective to say so, the general discourse points towards raising taxes for captive taxpayers (like myself).
  • I just don’t see my taxes working for me.
  • We have a shitty public education system which I hope to be able to keep my kids away from.  This means I will have to pay for private education in order to try to give my kids the better opportunities I had to succeed in life.
  • The taxes I pay for are supposed to pay for my security BUT instead they support the police force citizens fear because a lot of them are actually the criminals.
  • These taxes are supposed to pay for our roads and infrastructure. Anyone who has driven in any Mexican city can tell you how great a job the government is doing there.
  • They are supposed to provide for decent utility services but since they don’t I have to pay an insurance company to protect my electronic appliances which might blow out due to uncontrolled voltage spikes and/or water pipes blowing up because of inconsistent water pressure.
  • They are supposed to provide us health services but I hope to NEVER have to be treated at an IMSS hospital for sheer fear for my life.
  • The amount of money I paid in taxes would have guaranteed both of my children access to the best university in the country… instead, they are paying for a bunch of white-collar thieves to sleep in during Congress sessions.

So for these and MANY other reasons, here’s a short message to the tax authorities, to government officials who benefit from my taxes and to all you assholes in the informal sector who besides not paying jack shit, keep complaining that the us, the working class, is screwing you over:

I don’t like it, but I’ve paid my taxes. So, FUCK YOU.

About these ads

As Gabby Giffords steps down…

Standard

As Gabby Giffords steps down from Congress, I would like to honor her decision by exposing and remembering that religious extremist fanaticism is behind much of the hatred that is ruining civil society not only in the US, but worldwide.

We have made great progress in spreading tolerance among much of our youth. Technology has actually helped bring people together and one would think this would mean it has allowed us to create a more peaceful, worldview. Unfortunately, technology  has also given the crazies a soundboard and allowed them to congregate and cluster.

This creates a hard but necessary decision. While I am all for tolerance and free speech, I have to conclude that tolerance must have its limits. Paradoxically, we cannot be tolerant towards intolerance. When I see something like the following video, I can’t bring myself to saying “it is Mr. Phelps’ right to spread hatred like this.”

Maybe it is his right. Maybe there’s no legal way to stop these nutjobs from saying their crap. Maybe the only resource we have against them is the same free speech that allows him to reach an audience with such stupid remarks. If that is the case, then let me go ahead and exercise my free speech: SCREW YOU WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH. Thanks for listening.

The power of Obama

Standard

He may not be able to get Republicans to support any of the much needed reforms. He will never be able to upset the deficit and balance the damn budget. But he kicks ass when it comes to getting babies to stop crying.

Vote Obama 2012. Because nobody wants to hear those annoying babies who won’t shut up (And yes, by babies I mean the Tea Party movement).

The Need for Reform in Mexico’s Congress

Standard

Here’s a link to my AQBlog article “The Need for Reform in Mexico’s Congress”, published on October 6th, 2010
http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/1858

Here’s a copy of it:

__________________________

Pedro Ferriz de Con (one of the most influential voices in Mexico’s radio airwaves) and I rarely see eye-to-eye on a number of issues. However, the dire need for a more efficient Mexican Congress seems to place us on somewhat common paths. 

For about a year now, Ferriz de Con has been rallying support for his “intellectual revolution,” a movement mostly focused on eliminating party-list proportional representation in the Mexican Congress.  His plight gained public support in late 2009 and early 2010 when the Juanitas scandal was unveiled. 

For those who have forgotten or did not hear about this, the Juanitas scandal refers to a series of women who ran for Congress last year (through direct and proportional election) only to fill gender equality quotas and then cede their seats to their husbands, siblings and other contacts (all male) soon after. They were called Juanitas as a reference to Rafael Acosta Ángeles “Juanito,” another pseudo politician who ran for representation of the Iztapalapa delegation in Mexico City under the promise that he would give this position to Clara Brugada after the elections.  The difference was that the Juanitas did not make their intentions to resign public until after the elections.

The Juanito and the Juanitas incidents were embarrassing moments in our political history. For a moment, civil society protested by supporting Ferriz de Con’s intentions to oppose proportional representation and inefficient government.  But soon after, people went back to their daily obligations and forgot about these diputada replacements who nobody voted for and who shamefully continue to legislate in today’s Congress.

On September 23, the intellectual revolution got a second boost when Julio Godoy Toscano, a PRD party member wanted by federal authorities for suspected close ties with organized crime, was sworn in as a diputado thanks to a legal technicality (amparo) and the collusion of the PRI and PRD in the Lower House. Presumably, Godoy Toscano hid inside the trunk of a car to get past security at the legislature and take the oath, thus receiving  fuero constitucional—a twisted legal resource that makes diputados, senadores and other publicly elected figures exempt from prosecution. 

Godoy being sworn in is yet another mockery of our political system. Clearly, our congresistas have lost sight of the supposed mission of representing the interests of those who elected them.  Protecting and harboring a suspected criminal by making him a congressman is simply beyond belief, even for Mexico. 

The day after Godoy took the oath, Ferriz turned on the microphone in his 6:45 am show and once again called civil society to join his cause.  He clearly had reasons to keep pushing. Due to popular frustration over Godoy’s antics, the intellectual revolution now has around 3 million supporters nationwide (this number will surely continue to grow).

I agree with Ferriz de Con that at one point in time Congress lost sight of why civil society created it. I also believe that there are too many diputados and senadores and they could do as bad a job as they do now with a Congress half its size. 

But the main problem with Congress is not the proportional electoral system. The real issue has more to do with accountability. There is no real punishment for missing congressional sessions.  No one limits the salary raises they give themselves. Nobody forces congresistas to read (let alone understand) the legislation they vote on. There is no obligatory legal training for diputados or senadores under the excuse that the Congress represents all people (not just the educated elite or the legal profession).

In fact, congresistas don’t even have to hire a legal advisor to help them understand the legal implications of the laws they pass.  This of course, results in a backlog at the Supreme Court of Justice. Justices spend most of their time rendering congressionally-passed laws unconstitutional. This creates a legal system filled with holes for criminals and deviants to navigate through.  Unfortunately there is no failing grade for faulty or useless legislation.

And as long as we cling on to the “effective suffrage, no re-election” ideal from 100-year-old revolution, there is no real incentive for our legislators to change the system and make their role more efficient and useful.

My suggestion for Ferriz: besides trying to get rid of the plurinominales, add these more serious and more relevant challenges to your effort to improve congress and you’ll have one more follower for your intellectual revolution.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AmericasQuarterly.org. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.