Thursday, September 08, 2005

Some Thoughts on Taxes

There are many things in this life I'll never understand. One of them is liberals' love affair with taxation.

For as long as I can remember, liberals have been in love with the idea of government taking our money. I think that they believe that the state taking our money and using it for social programs is what compassion is all about. Indeed, Howard Dean, speaking before a group of Baptists, said the Republicans ought to forego abolishing the estate tax because the "rich" didn't need that break in the wake of hurricane Katrina. I think Mr. Dean's statement has some wrong assumptions that might explain why he and his fellow leftists are such devotees of the tax man.

First, Mr. Dean(and all liberals) completely misunderstands the nature of compassion. Think about it. If someone or something bigger and stronger that I am takes my money and gives it to you, how is that compassionate on my part? I didn't give you the money directly and, more importantly, I didn't give it to you voluntarily. The essence of compassion is freedom. I must be free to not give you my money for my giving to be an act of charity. If I give under duress, then I'm doing it just to avoid personal pain, not out of concern for your welfare. And when the state takes money through taxation, it's forcing people to "give" under duress. Nor is the state itself compassionate when it takes from some to give to others; rather, the state is simply being a bully and a thief. The state can't take your money without the implied use of force if you don't comply. The threat of jail or forfeiture is that force. This causes many hard working folks to resent the less fortunate, despise government, and/or become expert liars to keep more of their money for their own families. So, in the name of compassion, the state becomes a bully, a thief, and fosters animosity towards itself and, worse, between its citizens. But Mr. Dean and friends don't get that.

The second wrong assumption is that taxes are good for poor people. Liberals like to claim that taxation helps the poor by "sticking it to the rich". But that's not true. No one has ever been lifted out of poverty by taxation; indeed, taxes can keep people poor by making products more expensive while cutting workers take-home pay. For example, if you earn $600 gross every two weeks, but bring home only $500, you're short $100; that's $200 a month, $2400 a year! You have $2400 less each year to spend yet, because of taxes, a $0.99 Coke actually costs $1.08. Other products are also higher than they need to be. The poor have to pay higher prices with less money but are supposed to believe that taxes "stick it to the rich". Guess who's really getting stuck.

Now for the third wrong assumption. This is the "social justice" idea. Liberals believe that it's inherently unjust for some people to have more money than others. So, to rectify this "injustice", government must take wealth from the rich and redistribute it to the poor. This idea is just plain wrong! It's not inherently unjust for some people to make more money than others.

Income is often, if not always, the result of people's choices. Some people make choices that cost them financially. A high school dropout will make less money than a college graduate. Is that the fault of the college grad? An unwed, teenage mother will make less money than a married, twentysomething mom. Is that the fault of the married mother? It's not unjust that choices have consequences; that's life. Demanding that government save you from your wrong choice(s) by taking wealth from those who made better choices is the real injustice. Think about that the next time some liberal politician tries to woo you into his love affair with the taxman. Tell him that real justice is treating everyone the same; that lower prices, not higher taxes, help the poor; and that aid freely given, not coerced by the state, is true compassion. Hopefully, if he's as open-minded as liberals like to say they are, he'll ditch the taxman and have a love affair with his voters instead. After all, that's the way it's supposed to be.

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