Mailbox: What About Taxes?

Alicia, who does the hilarious Capital Punishment cartoons here (she also has two political blogs, her own, and an homage site to Tom Delay), had sent me an e-mail the other day obviously vexed over a friend of hers that just couldn’t understand the use for taxes. So she came to me for my take on the matter, and for a little advice on how to argue the point. So with a little editing to take out the banter that you obviously don’t need to hear anyway, I reproduce my reply here for you.

Incidentally, I love doing this. Right now there’s not a whole lot to write about when it comes to my preferred subject, and so I’m stricken with chronic writer’s block. But I love when people e-mail me questions because it’s like an instant cure for the old empty brain syndrome. So, before I post my reply, I open it up to all yall. If you have a question that you would like to see answered in a post, please feel free to e-mail me at: mr(dot)m(dot)lofc(at)gmail(dot)com. Or you can leave questions in the comments sections of any of my posts from now on (just leave a little note saying you want a little more in depth answer on it.

Okay, here we go:

But the basics of taxes is that they are a necessity. We had a system at one point in time when all taxes were voluntary… it was called the Articles of Confederation, and it lasted about eight years. The fact of the matter is that taxes are a necessity, and the idea that corporations can run free on their own and everything will be fine because when they step out of line the consumers will spank their pee-pee is ludicrous.

This is the kind of idea that is put forth by your ultra capitalists, and it’s absolutely silly. It also makes me laugh because of all the times I’ve heard the phrase, “communism is evil.” Neither communism, nor capitalism are evil. They are both socio-economic systems that are void of morality, therefore free from being compared to moral absolutes. As any poly sci professor will tell you, communism is the perfect for of government, if it would only work, which it doesn’t. Communism can work in small communities, but in general it doesn’t work because in larger populations, there has to be an administrative focal point, which opens the door for corruption. That’s the word of the day here, corruption.

And so we see that unchecked communism fails because it relies on the fallibility of mankind to see to its execution. If one employs just the slightest bit of logic here, we see that unchecked capitalism fails for similar reasons. We’ll use the micro macro model.

In a small town, let’s say there are two drugstores. In one drugstore, the owner regularly beats the living crap out of the night clerk. Well, until he stops doing so, everyone chooses to go to the other drug store, and so soon the owner stops beating his clerk, and even gives him a raise so that he can have his business back.

Now, in an imaginary country with a population of about 300 million, will call it Spamerica, there is a large store chain called Spal Mart. Now let’s say that the GM of a Spal Mart up in the Northern region of Spamerica decides to, as an incentive tool, actually whip his employees. How does this effect the Spal Mart’s business in general? Not much because the people in the South Western region of Spamerica don’t care what the hell goes on up north, as long as they get their Daipers 3 dollars cheaper there than anywhere.

The first problem with unchecked capitalism in a nation this large is scope. The community is too broad, the factors too numerous, and the means of communication to fragile to even hope that the free market, let alone the country in toto, could police it’se self.

The second problem with unchecked capitalism is intent. In communism, the bottom line is at least supposed to be the common good. It inevitably stops being that, but at least that is the intent. In capitalism, the bottom line is, and always will be profit. Actions taken to address the common good are only taken by virtue of increasing profit, and so if to address the common good becomes unprofitable, than companies will abandon the masses. If you think this is a heinous idea, step back from the language. I’m not talking about stealing candy from poor blind kids, I’m talking about cutting corners on safety, or laxing on QA, or using cheaper materials, things that corporations do now, despite not running the entire show. At least with a seperate government in place you inject another factor into the equation. Along with profit, you now have voting to influence the public sphere.

Sure, our votes may be diluted, but look at the arc that the Iraq War has taken. Bush’s numbers hit record low when he was playing the stay the course tune. He’s currently bounced back up to 42 and one is forced to ask why? He still plays the same old saw, but, he’s thrown in a little extra substance, not enough to quell the wonks, but enough to start to win back some of the less involved moderates, and he’s actually making a feeble attempt at taking responsibility, all the while still playing the same tune. At the same time, though, all my sources are leading me to believe that there will be a slow draw down of troops starting late next year.

All of this occurs over voter appeal. Why do you think Bush went back on the stump regarding Iraq in the first place? because he knew that if the American people weren’t behind him in Iraq, everyone trying to use his name for reelection was in trouble, which means they would start cutting ties, which means that anything Bush wanted to get done; Iraq, taxes, learning how to tie his shoes, was in serious trouble.

So we need a system of government that is seperate from corporations so that we have at least a more direct say in the public forum that is not (theoretically) related to dollar value in any way. And now we come full circle to the taxes question. If we are to have a form of government, we need taxes.

See, government provides us with things that we are incapable of providing ourselves, like national security and sewage. We need taxes to pay for this stuff. That is inarguable. Drop taxes all together, and you lose government… period. The argument comes in on what to spend the taxes on, and who should pay them.

The what is a matter of short sightedness. For example, I’ve heard the “I don’t want to pay for someone else’s kid’s education” which is all fine and good except when the kid becomes an adult who can’t get a job, and breaks into your house and steals your tv/dvd combo. Then you might have wished that you had chipped in a little bit for the kids schooling.

The who can actually get above me sometimes, but there are some things I think ring true. You don’t tax the poor because that just makes sense. You’re not going to get that much money out of them, and it does no good to drive someone further into poverty. The middle class can handle some of the burden of taxes, but in tough economic times that burden needs to be lifted because these folks are your consumers, their your spending force, and for the economy to keep on truckin’, these people need to be spending their ass off. The rich should handle a considerable amount of the burden because if they don’t, they horde it. The money doesn’t get recirculated into the economy, and therefore becomes useless. Also, this is not a scale of relativity. You take a poor person, and remove, say, ten percent, that’s one extra day he doesn’t get to eat this month. You take a rich person, take away ten percent, he may have to let his yacht go an extra month before he can take it in to get serviced.

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