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For athletes, high taxes are a necessary sacrifice

As a reward for winning last weekend’s British Open golf tournament, Phil Mickelson earned $1.4 million. Well, he sort of did. After taxes he will only pocket about $628,900. Still not a bad payday, but in Mickelson’s world, such taxation does not sit well.

Earlier this year, following a tournament in California, Mickelson lashed out at the current state and federal tax codes.

“If you add up all [the taxes], my tax rate is 62, 63 percent,” he said. “There are going to be some drastic changes because ... this does not work for me right now.”

The first question that comes to mind when reading Mickelson’s comments is this: Are Mickelson’s complaints warranted or, as an athlete who makes millions of dollars every year, are his comments downright selfish?

Personally, I tend to lean towards the latter. Here’s why. Tax money is necessary to fund the social programs that keep our country afloat. Athletes like Mickelson lose relatively little by paying high tax rates. And ultimately, it seems that multi-million dollar athletes, as citizens of our great nation, have a social responsibility to help.

When evaluating the efficacy of what Mickelson considered to be high tax rates, it is necessary to consider exactly what tax dollars are used for. According to the 2013 California state budget, $39.7 billion be spent on K-12 education. That amounts to roughly 27 percent of the state budget. And $45.9 billion will be spent on health and human services, almost 32 percent of the state budget.

Considering that roughly 57 percent of California’s state budget funds either education or vital social programs, the question becomes whether cutting tax cuts would be advantageous. Do we, as a nation, want an uneducated population? Can we, as a citizenry, stand by while fellow Americans starve or go without healthcare?

For me, the answer to both questions is a resounding no. Public education and social programs keep America afloat. An uneducated population has difficulty producing in the workplace and a starving or sick population cannot produce at all. Thus, tax dollars must continue to be raised because without them, our country’s ability to stay ahead of the world curve will be compromised.

With tax dollars being so vital to our country’s well being, I see no reason why athletes like Phil Mickelson should complain about paying their fair share. After all, Mickelson’s net worth is estimated to be $180 million. Perhaps $628,900 feels like a big hit, but in the large scheme of things, it is not.

At the end of the day, high tax rates will not prevent Mickelson or similarly situated athletes from buying mansions and cars. High tax rates will, however, help those in need. Athletes like Mickelson reap vast benefits from our great nation and I see no reason why they should not be required to give back. It is time for multi-million dollar athletes to be thankful, stop complaining and help those in need. It is time for multi-million dollar athletes to accept some social responsibility.

imaclaren@cortezjournal.com

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