Starting with President Ronald Reagan, a new cult has overwhelmed our country. The mantras of this cult is “no taxes, cut taxes, no new taxes.” This mantra has been promoted by conservative Republicans and libertarians, and many in the general public who, being exposed to endless repetition, never questioned real reasons for its promotion.
The claim is that through taxes, government steals the money of honest, hard-working men and women, then squanders it on frivolous enterprises or on dreaded “bureaucrats.”
Let’s consider facts: Nobody likes to pay taxes. But the basic premise of democracy is that all the citizens of the state have rights and obligations to the society. The rights include the ability to elect leaders, to participate in major decisions such as war, to enjoy the benefits of public works and to be taken care of when in need. The obligations include serving the state and contributing to society through taxes, based on one’s ability to pay.
Taxes were initiated to take care of the society, to pay for construction and public works maintenance for public benefit, to support the military and to assist the needy. The wealthy in a democracy should contribute more in taxes than the poor. In ancient Greece, the wealthy were obligated to serve the state pro bono.
The vocal “no taxes” cultists have exploited the natural human impulse to not want to pay anything. Some succeeded financially by taking advantage of the country (and the taxes paid by others). They do not avoid, however, demanding the services that the government and other taxpayers provide (public schools, roads, fire protection, paramedics, air traffic control, public health, etc.).
In the past, the term “political conservative” implied one who believed in fiscal responsibility, but not at the cost of social isolation. The no-tax cultists want to avoid paying for society’s needs.
My conclusion is that the “no taxes” cultism is a phony issue, as no civilized country and democracy can survive without taxes, and taxes must be paid predominantly by those who can afford them best.
Why should our children be responsible to pay the debts of our follies, such as “preemptive” wars and the abandonment of our schools, so that we can maintain our “no taxes” policies? Why should we allow the infrastructure of our nation, which we and our parents built with our labor and taxes, be left to crumble? Is not destroying our public schools in order to avoid paying taxes equivalent to eating our seed grain as far as the future of our nation goes? What decent person can have a clear conscience doing this? How inhuman can we become and how long can we survive as a society?
Finally, how many of us can take with us what we saved through these “no taxes” policies when we leave this Earth, not ever to return?