Taxes as Civic Tithe
No one likes paying taxes. Especially in a country like the U.S. which began with tax protests. Of course, unlike the rightwing fringe “teabaggers” (Honestly, don’t these people know how to google contemporary slang terms? Since this is a family-friendly blog, I’ll let you discover for yourselves why Michelle might object to the signs saying, “Teabag Obama!” Really. From the family values crowd, too.) the colonists were not protesting the very idea of taxes. They were protesting “taxation without representation.” i.e., having no elected say as colonists in Parliament’s decisions as to what to tax, how much, and how those would be spent.
Taxes are the price of civilization. With taxes, we pay our police, firefighters, teachers, and other public servants. If we want good roads, bridges that don’t fall down, levees that don’t break, an electric grid that works, we must pay taxes. If we want our elderly cared for, we pay taxes. (Poverty in old age used to be a chronic problem. Since the advent of Social Security taxes and Medicare, poverty in old age is relatively rare in the U.S. Children’s poverty, however, is a huge problem in the U.S.) If we want our veterans cared for, we pay taxes. If we want good government, we pay taxes.
It is true that taxes can be high and oppressive. The Bible has plenty of examples of such. But, in the U.S., we have some of the lowest tax rates–and, because of that, some of the worst public services. When anti-tax sentiments run wild in state and local legislatures, these governments must enact “hidden taxes” to get needed revenue: higher fines and court fees (and speeding quotas); higher rates for public parking; higher driver’s license fees, etc.
I have been involved in tax protests–over the amount of tax money used for military purposes and for the right for Conscientious Objectors to have a peace tax fund that allows all of our taxes to be used for non-military purposes. (There is a bill for this in Congress that is introduced every year and never gets out of committee.) But the fringe element at today’s “tea parties” seem to be protesting “high taxes,” although these are the Bush tax rates that they have praised for 8 years–and next year most of their taxes will decrease while the taxes on the rich slightly increase. There is no logic here.
Meanwhile, offshore tax havens for wealthy corporations cost the U.S. an estimated $100 billion per year which honest taxpayers must make up. Wealthy people cheat on their taxes far more often than poor and working people.
You cannot get something for nothing. If we want safe toys, we need inspectors and regulations, paid for by taxes. If we want safe water and air and working conditions, it takes taxes. If we want a Federal Emergency Management Agency that WORKS after a disaster (as it did during the Clinton years, but not during the Bush years), then we must be willing to pay our taxes. The current highest tax rate (upper 1%) is only 36% and will only rise to 39% next year. During the Eisenhower era, when America had a strong economy and the largest middle class in our history, the top 1% tax rate was 90%.
I have a different name for the tea partiers: freeloaders and parasites.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.