Saturday, July 11, 2009
Why should my taxes go to things I consider immoral?
Conservatives object vehemently to their tax dollars going to fund abortion.
Liberals object vehemently to their tax dollars going to fund the Iraq war.
Conservatives object vehemently to their tax dollars going to fund central payer-administered healthcare.
Liberals object vehemently to their tax dollars going to fund the "war on drugs."
Conservatives object vehemently to their tax dollars going to fund public school sex education.
Liberals object vehemently to their tax dollars going to fund abstinence-only "sexless education."
I heard a conservative caller on a talk show state flatly "I don't want my tax dollars to go to someone with a pre-existing medical condition."
Both liberals and conservatives talk endlessly about their rights--and the rights of those they favor--but they only talk about the obligations of the other side, and of those they don't favor.
But beyond our rights and obligations, all these demands about how tax money is to be spent/not spent raise deeper issues that I think matter even more than the hot button topics you see on placards and bumper stickers.
Which is--every time someone makes demands linked to taxation, they're saying:
"I have the right to specify what my tax dollars will and won't be spent on."
How would a democratic country apply that principle? These zealots are proposing that every taxpayer has the right to submit a list with his/her tax return, ordering the government to allocate that person's tax dollars exactly as that taxpayer demands.
Think about the bureaucratic nightmare. It would have to be tallied by hand, which would lead to errors, which would lead to demands for recounts.
And even if we could adminster such a system, it cuts the legs out from under the essence of democracy: the losing side takes its lumps.
When Bush won in 2000 by--as roughly half of Americans believe--Supreme Court fiat--you didn't see militias going to war with government troops. The losing side griped loudly but ultimately they accepted the results. Conversely, when the Antichrist won in 2008--according to a substantial minority of Ameircans--again you didn't see warfare on the streets.
Yet we keep getting these bogus tax dollar allocation demands.
I say to both sides: There has never been a single instant in American history when everyone agreed on everything government did with everyone's tax dollars. We all agree, as adults, to sacrifice some of our individual freedom in exchange for the benefits of being citizens of the most powerful and prosperous nation in history.
So grow up.
If you want to change law, campaign lawfully to change it. But stop talking about "your" tax dollars. Those tax dollars aren't yours. They're everyone's, just as you own a share of everyone else's tax dollars, as mediated by our elected government, operating under our Constitution.
And if you find another country is run more to your liking, feel free to move there (if they'll take you). Go. We have plenty of residents. We can spare you.