Have you noticed that the same thing that happens with property is happening with tech? Seriously. Suppose you have a brain. That’s your computer. Your parents spent a heck of a lot of money developing that “computer” of yours, assuming you’re sitting here alive and reading this post. So, you’ve got a computer that you now own (barring philosophical and religious arguments). Let’s begin with this basic assumption.
You buy a plot of land, which you pay money for and are taxed on. You build a house on that land, and you add all the amenities that you must have to protect your new shelter, such as shingles, siding, windows, insulation, and all the harware inside and out, to include a furnace, plumbing, electricity, a water heater, and you name the rest of whatever you want in there. You had to buy some tools to build your house, as well as a building permit. You had to buy all the extra pieces and parts to fasten your shelter together with, as well as all the stuff to go on, in, and around it. You were taxed on all of that when you paid the money to buy it. Now, unless you’re independently wealthy, you must have a job and work for that money, which you do not receive all of at paycheck time because the government and other entities take out taxes before they give that paycheck to you. If you’re self-employed, you’d better know the rules about that, by the way. Either way, you get taxed on your hard-earned money that you worked for. You spend a little on your house to maintain it and you save the rest because you know you’re going to have to upgrade your house and buy food. Suppose you grow a garden and have free-range chickens for eggs and a milk cow to cut down on expenses. You have to feed all of your animals, so some of your money goes toward that, too. The insurance on the house isn’t cheap and neither is the car that you had to buy to get to work in. You got taxed on the car when you paid for it, and the loan company is charging you interest on the loan you took out to buy it. Fuel is taxed, too, but you have to have it or your car is going nowhere. If you were smart, you bought a truck so you can haul some things around in the bed, or at least an SUV so you can carpool and get some gas money from your coworkers. So, here comes income tax time. Guess what. You’re going to pay out of that paycheck to the state government and the federal government, and possibly a union. Maybe you’ll get a little bit back, or maybe you won’t. Oh, and there was a hail storm that damaged your roof and you had to file an insurance claim and pay the deductible to replace the damaged roof and siding. Maybe the hail got your truck, too, and there’s another insurance claim with a deductible that you have to pay. Did I mention those premiums that you pay the insurance every month? I meant to. Anyway, it’s neither here nor there because you have to declare every tool that you bought to build that house last year if you want to claim a deductible on your taxes, and then you’re going to get taxed on that hammer or drill or saw or whatever it is every year, over and over and over. You never really own that old hammer. Now vehicle registration for the year is due and you pay taxes on the estimated value of your vehicle (disregard the hail storm, here) and the price of a new registration card and a thin little colored sticker or two (some years, new license plates, too) to prove that you paid the government the proper fees to use the roads that your tax money built (remember that paycheck?). Oh, yes, and your driver’s license is expiring this month and there are new regulations that require more information, more proof of who you are, more money to renew your license – yet another tax and some pretty steep fees, and less time between the dates when you have to get it renewed now. I think you get the point.
So how does this apply to technology? Well, somebody offers you some money to put a cell phone tower on your land. You’re strapped for cash after all these taxes and you agree. Cell phones get more popular, so you get one, and you get taxed on the cell phone when you buy it. You need service for the cell phone, though, so you pay for a cell phone plan. There’s a data plan, too, which is an additional cost. Oh, and there are government taxes and fees on the phone, the service plan, the data plan, and the air you breathe, too. What about internet? More fees, more taxes, more service plans. Now you decide that your internet is too slow. That could be for several reasons, but let’s assume it’s because the infrastructure is old and the company doesn’t offer high-speed. You’re trying to get an education and you need a new computer (not your brain this time, a real one) and internet service for sure! You pay for both and are taxed on both. You pay your monthly service fees and taxes for the use of the air you breathe, which happens to be the medium by which all of these signals in the sky travel, all while you have this meager amount of money being paid you by the company who has their cell tower on your little plot of land, which you are also taxed on every year. Now cell phones are getting more expensive and technology is exploding and your phone and your computer and your tablet are all out-of-date, even with the endless updates that you download and wait to install, running up your utility bills in the process because these things all require power, and what do we have left?
An educated brain. A dilapidated farm with a cell phone tower on it. A few coins in the one pocket that doesn’t have a hole in it. A lot of debt. No job. And the American Dream.