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Another side of America

Many people wonder why America is so strong in many aspects and could provide an abundance of amenities to its citizenry. They often ponder what makes the American systems—the political and economic systems—strong. Though there is no utopian system in the world, yet the American experiment, with some of its imperfections, has proven to be the best in the world.

America excels in many areas, including science, technology and medicine due to ingenuity. Indeed, the country is full of ingenuity sparked by innovations in various areas; medical breakthroughs with life-saving procedures abound. The quality of medical care in the US is quite appealing with many leaders in the Third World countries making America their country of choice when it comes to medical treatment…

In the field of engineering and space exploration, America appears to be the number one with numerous inventions that make life better. The standard of living is superb! The opportunities for upward mobility are unparalleled. No other country in the world could give many of us immigrants the opportunity to excel in our chosen fields. In fact, many Nigerian immigrants are very successful in various fields.

The institutions are standardized and highly strong with checks and balances.

The country is an organized society with rule of law and freedom of press and association. With highly strong institutions that have stood the test of time, things work in a predictable manner. For example, there are traffic rules that regulate behavior of motorists.

In education, the quality institutions are replete with consummate professionals who work diligently and continuously to improve the science and art of their craft. The American higher institutions have produced many Nobel Laureates in various fields. In 2016, six Americans won the Prize.  Duncan M. Haldane of Princeton University, David Thouless of Yale University and Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Sir J. Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University was awarded, in part, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Similarly, Oliver Hart of Harvard University and Bengt Holmström of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received the Nobel Prize in Economics. The irony about these six American Nobel Laureates is they are all immigrants. None of them was born in America.

Yes, America is well-organized! But despite all the good things in America, the country is burdensome. The tax burden and other encumbrances in America are very high compared to other countries, especially Nigeria. On March 24, 2014, Michael Snyder carefully listed 97 different taxes Americans pay each year.

Without a doubt, living in America has its own drawbacks. Without going into the complexities of the federal tax laws, one has to pay a percentage of his/her income to the federal government every year. In addition to the federal income tax, people have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. In some states, people pay state tax, as well. Besides the federal/state income, as well as Social/Medicare taxes, people pay taxes on their houses and they are required to pay insurance premiums on the property.

I was having a conversation with some people, both here and in Nigeria about life in America. I told them that in America, you pay for everything!

You pay taxes on your house, sales tax on almost everything you buy. You pay for your sewage, water, heat, and air. You pay for your car inspection and car registration every year. You’re legally required to have car insurance and you must pay for it. I also told my friends that those who have health insurance through their jobs, pay expensive premiums. I shared with the people that there was a time I was paying about $1,000 per month on health insurance. I continued by saying that we pay tax whenever we pump gas into our cars. Also, there are taxes included in our utility, phone and cable bills.

Interestingly, failure to pay a federal income tax may result in going to prison. Similarly, a person may lose his house for failing to pay his/her property tax

Chief Ken Jerry Ike shared his personal experience in our conversation. He said the following: “Homeowners associations (HOAs) is one of the things that add stress to life in America. Homeowners who live in an HOA must abide by its regulations and pay a monthly, quarterly or annual fee that pays for the management and maintenance of the community. The funny side of the whole thing is that if you buy a house in a neighborhood managed by HOA, you are automatically a member. You don’t have the option of not belonging. When buying a home in a community with an HOA, you’ve got to add HOA dues to your budget.

The dues vary, but typically run into hundreds of dollars per month and also you must be ready to abide by all the rules and regulations. Most of these regulations include not changing the painting of the house to a color not approved, keeping to the pattern and color of roofing approved by your HOA; not making changes to your house without approval or, even changing the colour or pattern of your pavement.

Any break of these rules could attract penalty requiring the homeowner to pay a fine. If the homeowner refuses to pay, the HOA can take more punitive steps, up to and including forcing the sale of the home.

Chioma Michael from Zaria opined, “Sir, did you know I’m still in a state of shock with all these taxes you just revealed about America. I tell you its terrible; in fact, all those ignorant Nigerians need to know about all this before shouting I want to go to America and make it.

“Little did they know that they are going into trouble, for Christ sake, how does one justify a situation where all you sweat to earn goes into taxes. Believe me, the taxes are just too much.”

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Editor, Online: Ikenna Emewu
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