Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On Taxes

Florida man, 32, calls 911
complaining his mother
took his beer.

I’ve been thinking about income taxes, you know, that perennial obsession of the Republican party that always and under all circumstances want them reduced. Lower taxes and small government has been their mantra as long as I can remember. This was best expressed by their anti-tax guru, Grover Norquist, who famously remarked he wanted to starve government until it could be drowned in the bathtub.

When the U.S. government first existed and was not very big it was financed, I believe, mainly by taxes on tobacco and alcohol (maybe a couple of other commodities). I believe the first attempt at an income tax occurred during the Civil War but did not last for long. I guess there were a couple of other short periods when an income tax was in effect but, again, not for long. The income tax was only made a permanent part of our government policy in 1913 and has, of course, been changed many times since, but never eliminated.

The purpose of taxes, including the income tax, is ostensibly to finance important public requirements, police, fireman, highways, national defense, education, stuff like that (ignore for the moment the fact that our government has frittered away our taxes or years to make the world safe for gigantic oil and fruit companies, along with starting unnecessary and unconstitutional “wars,” and such). In some nations taxes provide universal health care for their citizens, free education, mandatory vacations, maternity leaves, sick leaves, unemployment insurance, and other amenities that we (Republicans in particular) try desperately not to fund at all. While it may be true that our current taxes are largely wasted by our rather obscene military/industrial/political complex, the basic necessity for taxes is perfectly reasonable, we do need policemen, firemen, highways, unemployment insurance, and etc., although Republicans seem not to really think so. They always attempt to brand Democrats as “tax and spend liberals,” whereas their policy of the past few years has been “spend and borrow.” The Republicans recently insisted that not only should taxes be reduced a bit for the Middle Class, they absolutely had to be reduced for millionaires and billionaires before all others, an idea so patently absurd as to make you question their sanity. But they got their way, so now we will add 800 or so billion to our national debt to pay for this absolutely unnecessary largesse, and there is no doubt in a couple of years they will attempt to make these particular tax cuts permanent (if, that is, our nation has not collapsed by then, as seems to be their plan for getting rid of President Obama).

Anyway, I do not object in principle to paying taxes, but I do object to seeing them wasted on militarism, munitions, murder, mayhem, and the mental masturbation that has led to all that. When you consider that the American public is not notorious for saving their money, but are notorious for consumerism, lack adequate medical care, unemployment insurance, decent educational facilities and teachers, and our infrastructure is falling apart, the Republican argument that taxpayers need to keep more of their money for themselves by lowering taxes, seems to imply it is more important for people to blissfully go on buying more and more Chinese junk, bigger cars and houses, more built-in obsolescence and rent more storage space than it is to see their money spent on vital social services. Might I have the temerity to suggest, however ironic or heretical it may seem to some, that in fact we should raise taxes, improve government, and drown Grover Norquist in the bathtub.

It seems to me that clearly, from the standpoint of our society and culture, and certainly from the point of view of our ordinary citizens, it would make more sense to spend our taxes on viable and necessary social programs that would improve our nation and ourselves, rather than on more “stuff.”

"When your brother falls behind you don't leave him there. Wait for him to catch up.”
Albert Ward
Mic Mac Elder

Forensic science began in the 1880’s and 90’s.

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