01 November 2011

Civilization and Taxes

bdunbar | Juggalo Madness

“I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.”

- Steve Martin


Saw lefty guys I know posted this on Facebook. I call shenanigans.

As long as we've got a state, and it does stuff that needs to be done, it has be paid for. Taxes are a way. Not the only way, perhaps not the best way, but it's what we've got.
I second the call of shenanigans.

I've seen this image going around too, and I think it's a total non sequitur.

(1) Even accepting it's a privilege to pay taxes, this doesn't tell us what level they should be, only that they should exist. If taxes were cut to 10% of GDP this little image would still apply. As they would if taxes were 95% of GDP.

This is a little like people claiming we need progressive taxes. Okay. We've already got them. the debate is whether they should be more or less progressive than they are now and how much, not progressive-or-not-progressive.

(2) What civilized society do you want to pay for? Religion is a part of civilization. Is it a patriotic privilege to pay taxes to build cathedrals and hire clergymen? That's been the height of civilization for more societies in more years than not.  Oh, you don't mean that, do you, anonymous facebook poster?  You mean it's a privilege to pay taxes for stuff you like.

Dunbar doesn't want to pay for the stupid stuff. Neither do I. He and I probably agree a lot on what constitutes stupid stuff. Me and some other people would disagree vehemently. The best solution for situations like that is that you don't try and force me to spend money on stuff I think is stupid and I return the favor and don't force you to spend money on things you think are stupid.

(3) See what I wrote concerning Oliver Wendel Holmes' quip about taxes being the price of civilization:
Taxes aren't the price we pay for civilization, they're the price we pay for being insufficiently civilized. They're the price we pay for being incapable of organizing ourselves peacefully. They're the price we pay to make others restrain us when our own self restraint is inadequate. They're the price we pay to have someone force us to be civil when we do not trust each other to willingly behave civilly. Taxes are a sign of failure, not a measure of success. Government is not the cause of civilization but a poor substitute for it.
(4) If someone just typed out those words, in text, and posted them online no one would care. But by putting them in an image file people think they're profound. I've got to try that trick sometime. It's a neat one.

2 comments:

  1. "(4) If someone just typed out those words, in text, and posted them online no one would care. But by putting them in an image file people think they're profound. I've got to try that trick sometime. It's a neat one."

    You should start with this exact quote.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll be firing up some graphics software in a minute!

    ReplyDelete