I have been working this week trying to write a post about a very special person. It has turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated so I have decided to wait for some inspiration on that piece and write about an issue that has been nagging at me since I first read it. It was a part of the first post I put up from Oteil and it really disturbs me. I feel sentiments like this are the driving force behind what I am afraid may the death knell of the USA as a democracy. Oteil said: "The liberal notion that the Federal gov’t is supposed to give out money freely is wrong to me because it first depends on the theft of my money by the IRS. I am all for giving liberally individually but not federally. If I am allowed to keep more of my money I can guarantee it will get to the local homeless shelter, food bank, school, etc... when it is stolen from me by the IRS and given to the Federal gov’t it disappears into thin air."
Let's think about this statement. First a few hundred years ago our ancestors decided to form a society. One based on a here-to-fore untested system using a tripartite government. This government contained a system of checks and balances with the idea that this would keep any branch from gaining too much power and insuring that the people in this society could always have the final power using one man - one vote to replace any government that might abuse its power. This is a very simple definition of who we are and how we got here. That is the USA. The concept of "society" (groups of people forming unions) is as old as mankind himself. The concept that in all societies that members of these groups contribute to the common good is also as old as "society" itself.
Let's take a group of very early humans that have formed a tribe for their mutual benefit. How can they benefit from this association? It's simple enough, the men form hunting parties and provide the food. Women farm, take care of the young and keep the homes together. Each contributes to the common good. I doubt if one healthy young man would have simply said "you guys are just stealing my time and labor. I think I'll just hang here while you go get the food" and lasted very long. As humans evolved and societies became larger and more sophisticated then that labor became something else. Eventually it became taxes. Once societies formed into more complex entities then maybe some became the warriors, some the farmers, some the tradesmen, whatever but, along with their skills most societies for thousands of years have built projects on a societal scale and it took taxes to pay for them.
After stating the obvious let's ask ourselves, given that we all know that the transcontinental railway system could have never been built by allowing the population to operate under the "If I am allowed to keep more of my money I can guarantee it will get to the local homeless shelter, food bank, school, etc... when it is stolen from me by the IRS and given to the Federal gov’t it disappears into thin air." way of thinking. Really, do you think it remotely possible that the railways, the interstate system, the air traffic control system, our public school system (surely you can't believe that public education should not be provided), our Armed Forces (whether you agree with what they are doing that they are needed I am sure we can all agree upon), The Hoover Damn, etc. would have been built if we just left it up to the goodness of the average person to pay their share, or not? Do you think that we would have had any chance in hell of winning WWII without some very serious taxation that turned into most every American giving all that they could for the war effort, over and above those taxes? Do you have any illusions that this country with it's national electrical grid that was built with tax dollars and was the backbone for the industrial boom here in post WWII America could have ever happened? Really? Theft? Otiel, imagine a tour without the transportation infrastructure created by tax dollars. Think about all of the public services we use and just take for granted. There is little doubt that a lot of our tax dollars have been used for many corrupt purposes and that there is, has and always will be the need to monitor where those dollars go. I know of one story in Iraq where several truckloads of dollars, amounting to several b with a billion dollars just vanished. Shit like this goes on far too often, but to call paying taxes federal theft? Really? It all just disappeared into thin air? Really? The lack of those taxes are putting school teachers, fireman, policemen and public workers of every stripe out of work. Is this really what we want?
For the last couple of decades we have been headed (ostensibly) toward the conservative version of what the government should be (although the massive increases in our deficit happened under the three Republican Presidents, Reagan being the worst) . Taxes are at an all time low. Regulations on business are almost non-existent. We are in the middle of a recession brought on, in a large part, by these policies. In the past when this happened the electorate usually went oops and the pendulum swung back the other way keeping us away from the radical right or radical left. What scares hell out of me right now is that we know that we are in a recession brought on for the most part by these conservative views. We see the evidence everywhere. The Bush tax cuts and unregulated corporations and Wall Street Companies were the major causes of this mess. We should be headed back the other way. It doesn't seem to me that we are.
We now sit having blown trillions on idiotic wars and for the first time in the history of this country, while a few fought and died, the rest of us sat on our butts got very nice tax cuts and went to the mall. Now here we are facing what may be the defining election in our history. Where are we going? Where do you want to go? Do you really want to turn things over to people that are telling you that paying your taxes is nothing more than a rip-off? Really? If so, what will the society that replaces the one that requires you to pay taxes and the institutions that run it look like? It won't have any money, unless you feel like giving it some. Really think that system has much of a chance? Good luck.