A Meerkat Rants: A Taxing Topic…

We’re baaaaack, and so too are the Rants!  An in honor of the season, I’m ranting about something that comes up every year around this time.

No, not crocuses (who could rant about such cute little flowers?).  No, I mean that other thing that shows its head around this time… taxes.

Actually, I’m not going to rant about taxes.  I’m going to rant about ranting about taxes.

I don’t understand people who don’t want to pay taxes.

Okay, wait, let me restate that. I totally understand why people don’t want to pay taxes, because ‘taxes’ has become a filthy word in too much of today’s America. It’s a word loaded down with resentments and sense-of-entitlements, with exhaustion and the sense of “mine” being taken away by “them.”

Except it’s not “them.” It’s us. Taxes, to quote a much-loved sign I saw at the march for Sanity lo these many years ago, are how we get Nice Things for Everyone.

Schools. Roads. Community centers. Medicare. Social security. Child welfare services. Fourth of July parades (even if a local company boosts the cost, they still have to pay for cops to patrol, and sanitation to clean up after). Stuff like that, large and small.

Yeah, there’s always one asshole in every crowd saying “well, I don’t care about any of that, I want to keep 100% of MY money!”

And there’s always one asshole in every crowd saying “well, I don’t want to support X, they shouldn’t use my money for X!”

Yeah, okay, on that last one, I’d rather they not use my money for bombs and guns and spies, personally. But I also understand that a standing military is one of those things we need to have, because This is The Way The World Is. But this is also the exact same reason we need Child Welfare Services, and food stamps, bridge maintenance, and Medicare. You don’t get to prioritize one over the other until and unless we erase the need for them. And saying “well, keep your own gun and protect your property” doesn’t work to erase the need for a standing military any more than “feed your own children” erases the need for a standing social welfare system. Or, yanno, a healthy transit system that allows us to go to work/play/love.

We haven’t hit utopia yet, where plenty and peace and love flow without effort. Because People™, we probably never will.

And so we pay for these things we need, to keep ourselves healthy and whole…right, through taxes. Because it was set up as a national system that did not rely on a religion (church) or a single, inconstant benefactor (charity), or a family network that may or may not exist/be functional.

It’s not “the government stealing a chunk of our money.” It’s us using the government as a system to distribute care and support to areas where it is needed. And yeah, maybe we, our individual selves, aren’t needing all the care and support being funded. But that’s where the we-as-a-society comes into play. We build a network for those who need it now and those who will need it tomorrow and yes, those who will never need it but MIGHT someday unexpectedly.

And also for those who never will use roads, schools, community centers or Internet, will never need assistance with food or housing or rescue/aid/repair in emergency conditions…..

I have yet, in 50 years of life, to meet anyone of tax-paying age who meets that final category. I’m betting you haven’t, either.


About Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne is a recovering editor-turned-novelist, with an Endeavor Award, a Nebula nomination, another Endeavor award nomination and a Washington State Book Award nomination under her belt. Her most recent series is the award-winning "Devil's West" trilogy, starting with SILVER ON THE ROAD, and her same-universe story collection, WEST WINDS' FOOL, AND OTHER STORIES OF THE DEVIL'S WEST. The novella GABRIEL'S ROAD was published by Book View Cafe on April 30th, 2019. Her Patreon, featuring original fiction, writing advice, and original Rants, is at https://www.patreon.com/LAGilman Learn more at www.lauraannegilman.net, where you can sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


A Meerkat Rants: A Taxing Topic… — 4 Comments

  1. This is exactly how many northwest Europeans feel about their higher taxes – we get more good things back for them (and waste less on senseless military exploits). We do have our grumblers against taxes, but generally speaking people do not wish to do without those things paid for by taxes, and realise the money has to come from somewhere. Realistically, from those who a) have money, and b) will collectively also benefit from the results.

  2. “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.” Attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes.

  3. One of the things that would greatly help is A) if the tax code was more fair (that means rich people less able to evade taxes). And B), if filing your taxes was not such a stiff hill to climb.

  4. I was listening a report on Fresh Air about the absurd charges by hospitals for emergency treatment, and all I could think was why isn’t ER treatment a public benefit paid for by taxes. So many costs are better shared among us all, and taxes are the system for doing that.