The music, the characters, the chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling — it all was amazing in this year’s (almost) best picture, La-La Land.
It’s the kind of film that pulls at your heartstrings. But the real tears will start pouring down your face when you realize all that heartache could have been prevented, if our tax system didn’t suck.
SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to give away the entire plot of this movie. Read at your own risk.
The film follows the story of a jazz pianist (Gosling) who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Stone.) They both dream of making it big in Hollywood and are determined to help each other get there.
Gosling is offered a position as a pianist in a touring pop band that doesn’t really fit his style, but he sells out for the money, much to Stone’s disapproval. Drama ensues when Gosling misses Stone’s debut, one-woman show that she quit her job to produce. Sadly, it’s a total flop. It prompts Stone and Gosling to break up and achieve their dreams separately.
A few years later, Gosling finally has the money to open his club and uses the original name that Stone suggested. As for her career? She becomes a well-known movie star after she was discovered.
At the end of the film, Stone wanders into Gosling’s club with her now-husband. The pair lock eyes and the viewer is taken through an alternate universe of “what-could-have-been” should the pair have stayed together.
It’s a classic story of love, loss, taking chances, and finding comfort and acceptance in the choices we make. Like any typical softie, I teared up afterward and had the same thoughts as most people did who were leaving the theater: “What if?”
Part of me had the crazy thought that they could have stayed together if it would have been easier for Gosling to start his business from the beginning … and then I looked into it.
According to CNN Money, California is one of the worst states in the country to start a small business. It has the worst personal income and personal capital gains taxes at 10.3 and 8.84 percent, respectively.
Behind Alaska and Hawaii, California ranks third in the country for the highest energy costs at 18.15 cents per kilowatt hour. Considering the high cost of living, California is overall a tough place to try to make it big in any type of industry.
If Gosling and Stone’s characters were able to hold onto some of the money that would have otherwise gone to high taxes, maybe that jazz club could have been a reality much sooner. Maybe the couple would have stayed together. Maybe they would have had their “happily ever after.”
For far too many Americans, entrepreneurship is squashed the moment they realize the tax implications and how complicated it all can be. I mean, really, who has the time to read through our 74,608-page-long federal tax code, let alone hire a lawyer who could help them sort through it?
What’s worse is that the funds that could be used to launch innovative and new businesses are often sent to bloated government agencies who then squander those funds away. And to top it off, this scenario plays out year after year, since the government currently has a guaranteed source of revenue and average citizens have almost no say where their tax money goes.
For the sake of all Americans, and for Ryan Gosling’s fictional happiness, (just kidding, call me!), it’s time that we have a tax system that works for all of us.