Jilly D.

Sam is my sex slave to avoid paying taxes: no April Fool

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on April 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

purple crocus

Taxes and death are two things you can count on. I didn’t have to go to school to learn that. Death comes only once but taxes are every year. In New York State they’d like to tax the air we breathe, the sun that shines and the wind that blows and they’d do it too if they could just figure out how. When I moved here from Georgia in 1992 it shocked me to see how much taxes increased the cost of living. But New Yorkers do have things like paved roads, sidewalks and schools.

Taxes serve politicians’ bag of tricks. As the price of gasoline goes up, the percentage of federal and state taxes doesn’t increase but the revenues do. When gas is $3 a gallon, the tax is 54 cents; at $4 per gallon the government collects 76 cents; a 30 percent increase in revenues. The more money the big oil companies make, the more government gets bankrolled. Same with sales taxes; increased consumption of goods means greater government revenues.

We have friends and neighbors who have connected to the grid with their alternative energy systems. Using NYSEG’s consultants, their products, their installers and their lines, the power company will sell you a system on credit then buy any excess energy you generate. Most people end up with a ten year loan.

If you generate more electricity than you consume, then the power company will buy it from you at the price they set and you must pay sales tax as a power producer. The only way to get tax credits for alternative energy usage is to hook into the grid. The real tax incentives assist the big power companies, not the consumers.

Sales taxes are more progressive than income taxes. At least a sales tax is a disincentive to consumption and the tax is spread more equitably. The more you can afford to buy, the more dollars you pay in taxes. And vice versa; the less you spend the fewer dollars are collected. Income taxes, by their very nature, are a disincentive to earn and save.

Sam and I so fundamentally disagree with so much in our society, especially our government, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our nation’s system of taxation that we try to keep ourselves from supporting it as much as possible. Sam hasn’t made enough money since he went off-the-grid to file any income taxes. We avoid making purchases that require sales tax. Food, heating fuel, and clothing under $100 is non-taxable in New York State.

492703-R1-07-8AI am on the books and the farm and business stuff is in my name. I call Sam my sex slave. He doesn’t draw a salary working full time on the farm. I write the checks, but he makes the big decisions.

“You were 40 years old and didn’t have a pot to piss in.” Sam’s assessment of my financial and business sense is harsh but fairly accurate. A 1970 graduate of Odessa-Montour High School with a certificate in welding, Sam has worked as a mechanic, welder, 18-wheel truck driver with experience in HazMat and oversize loads. He has serviced and operated large equipment including bulldozers, backhoes, skid steers, and dump trucks. Sam drives and repairs tractors and other agricultural equipment. He has restored antique tractors and can do body work on any moving vehicle. He owned the largest Cub Cadet dealership in the North East during the 1980s. He has dug wells, ditches, canals, ponds and built roads and bridges, boats, docks, rafts and spillways. He’s built a few houses and a couple barns. An intuitive grasp of all things mechanical, architectural, and engineering, Sam is also a real wheeler-dealer.

I didn’t have a pot to piss in before I met Sam. It’s true. I didn’t own a thing. I rented a house. I had a car loan. I might have had a Kenmore washing machine in the basement but that didn’t mean I owned it except on time and monthly payments to Sears.

I took my one and only sabbatical the year after I met Sam. I took the entire year at half-salary rather than just one semester at full pay. I started school in the real world.

Delivering new phone books for three weeks earned me some extra cash. I explored entire neighborhoods on foot. I collected cans and bottles on all of my walks and turned them in for coins. I sold stuff I didn’t use and didn’t need in a garage sale. Those old vinyl records I had hung onto since the 70s went to a record store for too little cash. I did odd jobs, including reviewing book manuscripts for publishers, pet sitting and repairing sleeves in hand knit sweaters. I taught introductory knitting classes through the Adult Education Program at the Trumansburg School. I found out it was relatively easy to live on half my salary if I just stopped shopping. If I didn’t mention I had a Ph.D. it was also quite simple to pick up jobs.

Being self-employed I acquired an entirely new perspective on business practices. When you work for yourself you have a really hard-ass boss. No vacations, no paychecks, no sick days. You don’t get paid for your time. You get paid for results.

If you are going to sell sweet corn at the farmer’s market, it had better be your best corn. If you try to sell day-old corn and customers taste it, you won’t ever sell corn again. One bad ear and you can kiss that customer and everybody that customer knows goodbye. Corn, peas and beans sell themselves. If they are old and starchy you will only make a sale once. No repeat customers and a bad reputation.

If I wouldn’t put it on my plate and serve it to guests for a meal, I won’t sell it to you. I’d rather feed it to the animals than sell an inferior product. There are many radishes I grow that don’t ever make it into a bunch. Pitted, deformed, or just ugly; some radishes are not market quality. It might have been only hail damage to those fresh onion greens, but I’d rather eat them myself than sell inferior looking onions at market. I can eat my losses. How many stocks and bonds can you chew?

There was a whole new level of integrity to my labor. I believed in what I was doing and the product I was selling. I might not be getting rich quick, but I loved the feeling I got from knowing my friends, neighbors and members of my community bought my produce and came back week after week for more.

  1. I have to admit: your salacious headline drew me in, but your beautiful writing kept me there, and the truths spoken will stay with me for long after. Thanks for the education and reminders. It’s so wonderful to live through your experience one story at a time.

  2. Title is a show-stopper. I knew there would be great writing, too. Thanks for not disappointing. Terrific.

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