Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eight Propositions on Taxes


Taxes are not theft, but a precondition for the constitution and intelligibility of the claim to ownership on which notions of theft depend in the first place.


Taxes are not involuntary contributions to what might instead be charitable causes, since the basic rights secured through taxation cannot be regarded as matters of charity else they are not rights in the first place.


Taxes are not, however annoying they may seem, burdens on our freedom so much as indispensable enablers of freedom -- taxes, bonds, and fees maintain the legal, infrastructural, and administrative substance within which freedom can come to exist.


Taxing more those who profit more by their personal recourse to the shared inheritance of human knowledge and culture, to the shared inheritance of precarious environmental resources on which we all depend for our survival and flourishing, and to the ongoing benefits of collaboratively maintained infrastructure, institutions, norms, trust, legitimacy, and security is not unfair in the least, but arises instead from a recognition of the indisputable fact of our radical inter-dependence as creative and vulnerable individuals in the world, the very recognition which is also the foundation for fairness.


Taxes, as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., famously put the point, are the price we pay for civilization. Anti-tax zealots would appear to believe that you can eat civilization and have it, too.


Taxes pay for the social administration of basic needs that ensures the scene of consent to historical developments is non-duressed by the threat of deprivation, inequity, or insecurity.


Taxes ensure sufficient equity among citizens so that the diversity also valued by democracy does not disable the shared commitment to democratic processes, the preservation of democratic institutions providing nonviolent alternatives for the resolution of disputes and the ongoing reconciliation of the diverse aspirations of the stakeholders with whom we share the world.


Taxes coupled to representation itself ("No Taxation Without Representation") ties the maintenance of government as such -- an organization invested with legitimate recourse to force with all the authoritarian dangers inhering in that state of affairs -- inextricably to the maintenance of its democratic legitimacy.

A Repost in Honor of Tax Day.


Lorraine said...

Anti-tax zealots would have you believe that they created civilization, while educators such as yourself eat it.

Dale Carrico said...

Mmmmmmm, civilization.

jollyspaniard said...

9. There are plenty of places where you don't have to pay taxes. Sadly these places are largely devoid of civilization so people tend to avoid them.

jimf said...

> Anti-tax zealots would have you believe that they created civilization,
> while educators such as yourself eat it.

But the way of the righteous is not all roses. Before I close
I must call your attention to a problem we have to face, this coming
year. The worst menace to sound government is not the
avowed socialists but a lot of cowards who work under cover—the
long-haired gentry who call themselves “liberals” and “radicals”
and “non-partisan” and “intelligentsia” and God only knows how
many other trick names! Irresponsible teachers and professors
constitute the worst of this whole gang, and I am ashamed to say
that several of them are on the faculty of our great State
University! The U. is my own Alma Mater, and I am proud to be
known as an alumni, but there are certain instructors there who
seem to think we ought to turn the conduct of the nation over to
hoboes and roustabouts.

Those profs are the snakes to be scotched—they and all their
milk-and-water ilk! The American business man is generous to a
fault, but one thing he does demand of all teachers and lecturers
and journalists: if we’re going to pay them our good money,
they’ve got to help us by selling efficiency and whooping it up for
rational prosperity! And when it comes to these blab-mouth, fault-
finding, pessimistic, cynical University teachers, let me tell you
that during this golden coming year it’s just as much our duty to
bring influence to have those cusses fired as it is to sell all the real
estate and gather in all the good shekels we can.

Not till that is done will our sons and daughters see that the
ideal of American manhood and culture isn’t a lot of cranks sitting
around chewing the rag about their Rights and their Wrongs, but a
God-fearing, hustling, successful, two-fisted Regular Guy, who
belongs to some church with pep and piety to it, who belongs to the
Boosters or the Rotarians or the Kiwanis, to the Elks or Moose or Red
Men or Knights of Columbus or any one of a score of organizations
of good, jolly, kidding, laughing, sweating, upstanding, lend-a-handing
Royal Good Fellows, who plays hard and works hard, and whose
answer to his critics is a square-toed boot that’ll teach the grouches
and smart alecks to respect the He-man and get out and root for Uncle
Samuel, U.S.A.!

-- George F. Babbitt, founder of the Tea Party
(in Sinclair Lewis, _Babbitt_, 1922)