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a two-thirds baked idea about taxes

by Rob Friesel

I’m thinking that Americans (i.e., “we” and/or “us”) need to get over this bullshit obsession we have with taxes.  I’ve been thinking about this recently and I’m convinced that the mythologizing of the Boston Tea Party and that blasted James Otis quote have undermined us from the beginning.

I can’t remember an election cycle (Presidential or otherwise) where taxation wasn’t a dirty word levied on either side.  I get the feeling that some politicians have wet dreams about coming out on stage in buckskin pants, warpaint, and swinging a tomahawk, screaming about how we could storm the doors and let those pork bellies soak in the harbor for a while.

The “t-word” really ought to be excised from the public discourse for a few generations.  Every objection to taxation I’ve ever heard seems to culminate in or be summarized with a rhetorical Don’t you think it’s messed up that they just take your money right out of your paycheck?  Sure I do, but I’m willing to admit that it’s only because I feel the cash is being mismanaged.

Many of these same nay-sayers are then happy to talk about the recent diversification of their stock portfolio or how they’re maxing out their contributions to their 401(k)1.  To these individuals, I ask:  What’s the difference?  If you’re so eager to drop that cash to buy a few shares, there’s a clear motivation — correct?  You’re seeking a return on your investment.

Well, suppose you assert to your Congressman that your taxes are the same thing?  Consider yourself a shareholder in the United States of America.  Lose the mohawk, you wannabe Tonto impersonators, and demand your annual shareholders report!

  1. And/or 403(b) and/or (Roth) IRA. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

5 Responses to a two-thirds baked idea about taxes

Eric says:

Going back to the days of the tea party and such…

Remember who the founding fathers were. They were very well to-do businessmen who no longer wanted to pay taxes to the crown for nothing more than obstacles to their continued success (i.e., to trade this good, you need a stamp). They felt they were being taken advantage of and that there was little to no ROI for paying those tariffs, levies, and taxes. They rallied what little support they could from the original “Joe” Americans by talking about how unfair the British monarchy was in their taxing and how no one could benefit at any level of society unless those taxes were reduced or eliminated. I always thought of this as the origin of American trickle down economics. “Go fight for the Continental Army so the land owners and businessmen don’t have to pay taxes anymore. Then, they can employ you and pay you more.” Yeah, right.

Moving forward just a few years. After the revolution, the concept of the Unites States was distorted when taxes were levied at a federal level. This should have never happened. Taxation of the individual citizen should have been left up the the States or ideally, only with the municipal governments. The States who chose to join the Union should have paid into the federal government to support initiatives that benefited the Union as a whole. International commerce and relations, national security, and any other issues affecting the United States as a whole should have been the only concern of the federal government and any taxes that would have been imposed on the States.

I guess I am Jeffersonian? (I don’t like national banks either.)

found_drama says:

@Eric: That’s pretty parallel to what I’m saying, I think. Two-hundred-plus years ago when we set this precedent, set up the U.S. as a confederacy and when that didn’t work out, re-organized as a federal republic. The revenue stream needs to come from somewhere.

I certainly wouldn’t argue that the Founders weren’t getting royally screwed (pun fully intended) by the Stamp Tax. There was plenty of just cause for the rebellion and secession.

What I’m saying is that the mythologizing of the Boston Tea Party and a few other tax-related statements, sentiments, and events have negatively shaped the national cultural discourse about taxation, perhaps irrevocably.

Mark says:

I would also argue that the resistance to taxes is misguided on another level – the basic fact of how wealth-base was created in its current form was based on the development of infrastructure and programs funded with tax dollars. Think the Interstate highway system as the iconic image of a tax-funded initiative that allowed for the massive creation of wealth within the United States.

Just two more cents to your idea.

found_drama says:

@Mark: the Interstate system is a great example of the kind of demonstrative tax ROI that I’m talking about. It’s a massive, nationwide under-taking that benefits approximately everyone and though it has maintenance costs associated with it can also be linked to long-term gains. It might even be a better example than the coveted (mythical?) and oft-clamored-about universal healthcare — and I say that b/c it’s more tangible than healthcare.

So: yes, agreed; right on.

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