Thank Taxes

Today is tax day, April 15th, a day when most Americans enjoy grumbling a bit about the money we collectively pay to our government. Some grumble more than others. I try not to grumble about paying my fair share of taxes, because unlike some people I actually appreciate that maintaining a civilization costs money.

All over the country today there are people holding “tea parties”, during which they hold up signs in protest of taxes, chant slogans in protest of taxes, stomp their feet in protest of taxes, and squeal at the tops of their lungs in protest of taxes. It’s always about taxes, with those people. They represent a peculiar faction in American politics; stupid, narcissistic, emotionally infantile, and Libertarian. Actually, the first three adjectives there can be readily substituted for the fourth. Today’s “tea party” protesters are a pretty sorry lot… self-centered morons who seem to think the world owes them prosperity for free, roads for free, fire departments for free, military protection for free, and for all I know ice cream and cookies for free. Where do these people come from? Mostly from poor America… where taxes have purchased rural electrification, mail routes, farm subsidies, piped drinking water, roads, cheap grazing land, and the absence of Somali-style mob rule. There are also the rich tax-haters; people who have benefited immensely from a peaceful, prosperous society maintained by tax treasure, but who cannot stomach the idea of paying back one single penny to the nation that made their wealth even possible.

Would I rather keep 100% of my money, than pay taxes? Actually, no. Taxes are the ticket price I pay to live in freedom and peace. I try to keep in mind that without those taxes, I’d instead have to pay bribes to everyone in sight to get anything done, I’d have to pay protection money to whatever warlord whose territory I passed through, and I’d have to offer tribute to anyone with a gun who felt like bursting into my home at any moment. No, given the choice I’d rather live in a place where taxes are collected by responsible, dutiful people who work for a government that is accountable for its actions, and where those taxes are then used to keep things running in a generally smooth fashion. I pay taxes to my city so that if a fire breaks out in my home I don’t have to haggle with four different rival fire departments over how much I pay to make them haul out the water hoses. I pay taxes so that other people’s kids can get a decent education, even though I don’t have any kids, because an educated populace makes for a successful society. I pay taxes so that cops actually show up when I call them, and so when they show up they don’t try to shake me down for cash to do their jobs. I pay taxes so I can drive to visit my family across state lines without having to stop to pay a different toll to a different private road-owner every five miles. I pay taxes because the alternative is too horrific to contemplate.

Should the government run everything, or take everything I have in taxes? Of course not, but with surefire regularity that’s the false dichotomy we’re offered by tax deniers: Stalinist collectivism or shining Libertarian freedom. Only a halfwit could see the world that simply. Government isn’t a them… it’s what we set up to do the dirty work we don’t want to do ourselves, or to manage problems that can’t be trusted in private, unaccountable hands. Do you want roads? They’re going to cost you. Do you want a functioning health care system? It’s going to cost you. Do you want honest, law-abiding protection from criminal predators? That’s going to cost you, too. Grow up and deal with it.

The point of government is to set the stage, then it’s our turn to play our own roles and strive for success individually. Government can’t give us success for free, and I don’t want it to try… but I do want to be able to pay my check once a year so I can count on the stage being there for me to strut and fret my hour upon. Good-natured venting over paying Uncle Sam is a time-worn tradition, and I have no problem with that. I do, however, have a problem with people who want something for nothing. I have a problem with idiots who are happy to enjoy the benefits of a peaceful civilization, but then try to sneak out the back when it comes time to settle the tab. They may call themselves patriots, but I call them parasites.

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~ by Planetologist on April 15, 2009.

9 Responses to “Thank Taxes”

  1. Your childlike faith would be touching if it weren’t so naive. You accuse the tax protesters of creating a false dichotomy, but in fact it is you who are doing so. You can’t conceive of the possibility that the wise and benevolent gods in Washington might be misusing and wasting your hard-earned tax dollars. Or that anyone could find that to be a problem without being infantile and selfish.

    You don’t have to be a libertarian extremist to recognize that Americans are being taxed for things we don’t need, not just things we do need. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to look up the text of the federal stimulus bill and actually read all the things our money is being spent on. Then you’ll be a step ahead of the people who voted for it, since they didn’t read it.

    • I was hoping some true believer would try and put words in my mouth, and claim that I worship government. That’s a typical false dichotomy (once again) such pacifier-addicts enjoy leaping upon reflexively. Anti-tax fanatics are usually quite easy to manipulate, as you’ve proven.

      No, actually I don’t enjoy having my tax money wasted, and if you’d bothered to read any of my prior posts you’d have realized that I value efficiency and practicality very highly. I don’t believe that everything government does is peachy, in fact one of the reasons I’m so happy to finally have a responsible grownup in the White House is because we’ve had such a poisonous nest of traitors in there for the last eight years. I want my country to have sound, defensible, logical, efficient public policies in place that promote the intelligent use of public resources. If a problem is best solved by government staying out of it, do it that way. If a problem is best solved by having government exert a minimum of reasonable oversight, do it that way. Yes, of course I want our roads fixed, and yes I’m also upset that parts of the stimulus went to bail out billionaires instead of working people. I’m upset that we’re bailing out companies that are probably too big to exist in the first place, and who have managed our money with sickening incompetence. I’m upset that no one thought to require banks to use their stim money to make more loans, instead of pocketing the cash for their next mansion purchase. But none of that matters, I suppose… because I also support a black man in the White House, and that makes me the enemy. Funny how that works.

      I accuse tax protesters of creating a false dichotomy because that’s what the ones getting the airtime are doing. To them it’s never about an honest and informed discussion over what should be best done to address issues, it’s about having a tantrum. The current President is cutting taxes on 95% of Americans – or so he claims, and I hope he does – but somehow, weirdly, that’s not good enough for the redneck ingrates who stormed around carrying signs the other day. All they know is that Rush told them to go scream, so they scream. Now who’s being childish and naive?

  2. Dear Sir,

    Your reasoned discourse has no place on the internet! I demand more finger-pointing, name-calling, and glib generalizations!

    Okay, seriously, very well put. It’s refreshing to find a signal amidst all the noise.

    I wandered over here from a link someone put on Twitter and I’ve added you to my bookmarks.

    • I shall endeavor forthwith to finger-point with greater incoherence…. now, where did I put my laudanum?

  3. Well said. It’s a pity so few people understand how it works. I hate those conversations with people that whine that the government should do this, that and the other and then seamlessly flip to outrage over taxes with not even a flicker of cognitive dissonance.

    • My point exactly. The government is always the enemy, until you need it to do something for you. It’s just like in Catch-22;

      “[Major Major’s father] was a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism.”

  4. “maintaining a civilization”

    Yeah, if only we were doing that. Our infrastructure is failing, we can’t graduate half the kids from high school now, and at the same time we’re giving trillions to private interests, who happen to be the same people that cause the current economic crisis. I would be all for paying my taxes too if the money was just a ‘little’ bit wasted, but we’re going to be paying for this thievery (aka bailout) and these unnecessary wars for years.

    Now, if you actually like being robbed, then hey, keep on enjoying paying your taxes.

    • An excellent argument for improving our infrastructure and getting our public schools to work. Both of which will require you to keep being robbed.

  5. So, do you think of yourself as a collectivist?

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