I posted a column a couple of years back regarding the responsibility of expats to contribute their fair share to the well-being of our community. The message bears revisiting.
Jeanne’s Periodico recently reported the following.
“The federal government owes $1.054 billion to over 220 cities in Ecuador and has not structured a detailed plan to service the debt. In 2020, poverty – defined as a monthly income of less than $84.05 – went from 25% to 32.4% with extreme poverty – defined as less than $47.37 in monthly income – from 8.9% to 14.9%. Paid employment with benefits fell from 38.8% to 30.8%. Data from the Cámara de Producción showed that Cuenca lost 20,000 jobs since the pandemic started. According to INEC, unemployment reached 5% nationally, 22.7% of the population is living with underemployment, 28.4% do not have full-time employment, and 12.2% are not paid for their work.”
According to Quora Digest, the southern hemisphere houses 12.2% of the world’s population. I was aware of this prior to moving to Ecuador; it was one of the determining factors that propelled my decision to move here. Another is that Ecuador ideally suits my needs in several important ways: it has a strong cultural identity, is (with difficulty) committing to sustainable development, and understands that art, music, and education are essential elements of a healthy society.
However, these values are not guaranteed. The success or failure to attain these pursuits is fully dependent on everyone to equally lend a hand through investment and active participation. Fortunately, we have an excellent opportunity to contribute.
It is time for all expats, including those of us over 65, to support the IVA tax. This is the most basic way to take responsibility for our use of the many benefits we all receive.
I am truly flabbergasted that immigrants from countries known to champion individual responsibility would demand all they can get without the slightest inclination to pull at least a fraction of their own weight. Now, I’m not talking to the impoverished economic refugees who were summarily dismissed by their homeland — no one is faulting you for relying on a refund — but the majority of us can afford it, and should contribute our fair share by allowing the IVA to remain in the treasury.
There is no rational excuse to abdicate our basic responsibility and assume that Cuencanos can, or should, carry us on their backs.
The screeching of people demanding tax exemptions is a stain on civil, if not moral behavior. Ecuador is our home and needs our support to maintain the infrastructure we use every day, and to build the innovations that will improve lives in the future.
So, what’s up with all the bellyaching?
To be a taxpayer is something to be proud of. It is evidence that one is a responsible, contributing, and upstanding member of society, a person worthy of respect in the community and representation in government.
We must avoid the impulse of our North American neighbors who live only for themselves, plundering for their own ease and convenience without regard to refurbishing or renewal. The societal consequences of their aversion to paying taxes are crystal clear. Devastating storms, the result of global warming, have led to a diminished quality of life and the further disintegration of essential services across all segments of their society. Adding to their gluttonous shame is a much deeper abdication that defies even the most basic understanding of humane stewardship; a growing number of public utilities can no longer guarantee reliable energy or safe drinking water for the communities they are charged to protect due to ignored maintenance and underfunded public works projects.
A properly funded government in which every resident lends a hand is essential for building the tools to the future — and to mitigate the catastrophic damage done by those so consumed with their monetary fiefdom that they obsessively wield a wrecking ball to their own infrastructure and environment without regard for the future.
“When a man pays a tax, he knows that the public necessity requires it, and therefore feels a pride in discharging his duty.”
― Thomas Paine,
Voluntarily paying our IVA tax is the principled thing to do. Not only does it help to provide for the many benefits we receive, but it is also investing in the generations to follow; it is what we must do if we do not want our newfound home, so plump with opportunity, to become another impecunious banana republic.