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.