Over the years, American society has revealed itself as being particularly susceptible to the paradox, with our love/hate relationship concerning taxes currently taking center stage. While relishing the services made possible by taxes, such as educational institutions, charity programs, parks, public transportation and, for the more neanderthalic factions, the military, we shun those with the audacity to enforce them. George W. Bush and Friends instigated this hypocritical attitude by cultivating the term “taxes” into an evil institution, one analogous with equally dirty ideas such as “liberal,” “peace” and “truth.”
When discussing taxation, President Bush is fond of saying “It’s your money,” and insisting that the American people deserve a “refund.” This certainly sounds appealing, but as is his way, such statements are nothing more than half-truths. They exist only in black and white, refusing to answer the most pressing question raised by such unabashed statements, that being whether it is truly our money or not. This invites an involved answer that exceeds the scope of this humble column, but I present to you an analogy posed by internationally renowned ethicist Peter Singer in his insightful book, The President of Good and Evil: Questioning the Ethics of George W. Bush.
If we were walking in a forest and stopped to pick berries, are they truly ours? Should we not compensate those who own the land, or to those who watch over the forest and make it accessible for visitors? Why should we reap the benefits of a system without acknowledging those that made the possession of those berries possible? In the same vein, when we collect our weekly paycheck, do we not owe something to the system that makes that very job possible, the system that educated us to where we were capable of obtaining said job and may one day make it possible for us to have our own families and enjoy some of the finer luxuries our culture has to offer?
This idea of societal inter-dependence is at the core of all civilizations and a concept certainly not lost on Bush, as evidenced by his proposals of vast expenditures. A few such examples are the No Child Left Behind Act, the Millennium Fund, a large AIDS initiative, a horrifically planned war in Iraq and a new program for the acclimation of released convicts. Not all of these are inherently wrong of course – in fact the Millennium Fund is quite innovative -yet all of these plans were instituted alongside his massive tax cuts. So is it really any surprise that all of these projects have been grossly under-funded while we’ve watched our surplus plummet into a record-high deficit?
He has this country so duped that the American people actually allow him to get away with standing before them talking about how “it’s your money” while he runs the economic future of this nation into the ground, completely overlooking the logical necessity of taxation. He speaks of middle-class society and they listen with the deaf ears of fools, completely overlooking the fact that their share of the nation’s tax burden has sharply risen as the wealthy have seen their share sharply decline. He sneers at Kerry for his talk of repealing tax cuts for the privileged making more than 200 grand a year, completely overlooking the goal of this proposal is to cut the amount of uninsured Americans in half at the sacrifice of a rich family’s flat-screen TV.
The harsh truth is, my fellow voters, that we do in fact need taxes. They are an integral facet of our society, allowing the expected opportunities and benefits to exist, improving the quality of life on both personal and national levels. From having a park to walk through to established law enforcement agencies, taxes are what allow us to strive for the greatness we too often lost sight of.
Noah Potvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.