- Reporters Desk
They say it’s the price we pay for living in a civil society
James Preston Allen, Publisher
April seems to be the month in which we are besieged by a perfect storm tax paying. This year, property taxes… income taxes, and then monthly payroll taxes were all due in that one five day period that included both Passover and that rare lunar eclipse referred to as the “Blood Moon” – a name that references the eclipse’s slight rusty hue and in ancient times signified a harbinger of impending doom.
Keeping religion and ancient omens aside, I sometimes wondered who thought up the idea of levying taxes in the first place? I am sure that taxes have been with mankind, in one form or another, since before recorded history and probably were conceived with the formation of the first city states. As in how do we pay for the roads, water system and defenses of our city?
Of course, the bigger the city-state, and now nation-state, the bigger the government expense. I have some great sympathy for all of those tax resisters and conservatives who protest too loudly about paying too much in taxes. I also question some of the useless wars on which we squandered national treasure fighting over the past fifty years.
I question the amount of money wasted on government and corporate fraud, corruption, and sole source contracting. Large Governments as well as large corporations fail precisely because of their size and arrogance of power. Just look at what happened in the City of Bell or with Washington Mutual. The Justice Department’s failure to criminally prosecute the Wall Street bankers who drove our economy into the Great Recession with their mortgage bond swaps is another example. We collectively are paying for a great deal of malfeasance– yet, every year we pay.
Meanwhile the Republicans and Democrats in legislatures and Congress continue with their endless finger pointing on taxes and who should pay them– the underlying discussion really should be “how much should government really cost?” This is never addressed. The Tea-Party-ists and other libertarian folks believe in the old motto, “the government that governs least governs best” and there is much to be said in favor of that approach– for who among us wants the government regulating every part of our personal life and affairs? Who among us wants to pay for the NSA snooping into our personal email or phone calls? At what point do we give up liberty in exchange for security and then end up deserving neither? Thank you Ben Franklin for that continuing piece of wisdom.
Some argue that we should dial back the clock of history to a far simpler time when government was smaller and less powerful and yes people paid less taxes, but what would you be willing to forfeit for these savings? Would you give up funding the Food and Drug Administration or National Parks? Would you give up Medicare or Social Security? Would you prefer not to have the Environmental Protection Agency around to enforce the Clean Water laws?
The fact of the matter is that over the course of the last 100 years the entire alphabet soup of agencies created by our representatives in government have been done to address one singular challenge–to do for the people that which they can not do for themselves. This has been done to address the big things that individuals, local cities and often state governments can not afford to do alone, like build bridges, hydro-electric dams or essential infrastructures like interstate highways or put a man on the moon.
However, in my perfect world of thinking, the enormity of taxes should not be placed on middle class workers, the working poor or on small business, as it is now, but should instead be placed on those who benefit the most like the big Wall Street banks, the corporations who receive the largest government contracts and those who profit from our natural resources. Those businesses who off-shore their profits, hide their assets in the Cayman Islands or who utilize foreign corporations while ostensibly doing business in this country should be taxed at the highest possible rates. Sadly this is not the current case– so my conservative friends cry about Obamacare decrying its expense, never wondering why we are subsidizing Walmart workers incomes with food stamps, as the largest retail corporation in the world continues to profit.
Tax season will come and go, keeping all of our accountants busy and stressed, and you (the somewhat honest) tax payer worried. But the solution for a fair and equitable tax system eludes us because the government that now sets the tax laws is too divided, too bought-off by monied interests, and too incapable of deciding honestly how to pay for a modern government that could do lots more with half the waste and corruption.