A philosophy on taxation
Some months ago, Jer took me to task for what he thought was a caustic remark on my part regarding what I think of ANYONE who will cast a vote for either of the Leftist candidates the Democrats have offered us this November 4 (what a fitting date upon which to hold this election, no?). So, I decided to break down what I thought of taxation philosophically speaking. Maybe these thoughts will mesh with your own. Maybe not. Jer, I hope you take the time to read this.
It isn't my best written work, but it's what I got, and I'll be happy to elaborate further upon request. At the very least, it's a break from the whacked-out conspiracy theories and populism that infests these forums. Enjoy!
“Whoever casts a vote for Obama or Clinton is nothing more than a common thief.” - Unsane
I will admit that the above statement is caustic to most observers and readers. After all, who would equate the act of voting with larceny? But it is a cold, bitter truth.
To understand why, it is necessary to look within and ask the fundamental question: “What is taxation? Why is it done?” To me, these questions have very simple answers: they fund government operations for such things as provided for in the Constitution and in laws beholden by said document. Thus, they may suck, but they should be made as small and painless as possible. It is a simple philosophy.
Unfortunately, there are too many people out there who look to taxation to perform all sorts of miracles: encourage/discourage behavior, encourage/discourage the deployment of capital, and as a way to get even with particular groups of people for wrongs, real or perceived.
The way I see it, whether or not you are offended by the above remark depends largely on how you look at taxation. If you see it simply as a means to fund government operations, you won’t be offended, most likely. However, if you see taxation as a wonderful tool to exact revenge, punish people and control people’s behaviors, you WILL be offended by the comment.
Both named candidates in that comment have made it plain that they view the tax code as a way to punish those is society whose crime is to innovate, to invent, or to simply have passion for what they do. We call those people successful. Productive. And as a result, they become rich. Wealthy. How DARE anyone do that!
To top this, the way the tax code is currently written, thievery is being conducted constantly by the government. How? Well, The Economist from 15 April 2006 noted that the bottom 40% of wage earners in the United States pay a whopping 0.06 of the overall federal tax burden. The top 60% of wage earners – the rich – pay 99.94%. The 60% of the population that are the ants get to subsidize the 40% who are lazy grasshoppers.
Now, to begin with, I am at a loss to rationalize to myself or to anyone else how this can possibly be considered “fair” or “equitable”. But just to make the situation more irksome, we have two candidates who believe that those 60% are somehow not doing enough? How can the poor be getting screwed when they pay 0.06 of the overall federal tax burden?
And there are those who inhabit these boards who wonder why I dare use the words “steal” and “theft” to describe this situation?
Back in 1996 (my first Presidential election; I couldn’t wait to participate in them), I became a huge fan and eventual supporter of Steve Forbes. The “flat tax” concept I found most intriguing. A tax that hit everyone at 17% regardless of income? A tax code that I could easily carry around in my head? A tax code so simple that the IRS could be pruned down to about 100 people in the DC area? A tax code so simple that those caught dodging taxes could only be considered to be complete idiots? Oh, and as I recall, to satisfy the bleeding hearts among us, that rate of taxation began at $36,000 – allowing for the poorest among us to scrape together a bit of cash to survive on before worrying about paying Uncle Sam. I liked the idea then and still do for its simplicity and its elegance.
The tax code, quite simply, should be used to fund the activities of government: nothing more, nothing less. The government is not a charity, nor is it to be used as a bully for some groups of people to “get even” with others.