I don’t hate paying taxes

Posted: February 20, 2010 in Politics

I recently saw that Scott Brown said this: “No one likes paying taxes, obviously.” while he tried to paint himself as an expression of the populist rage at Washington. Good going on that, btw. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of watching Tea Party People (that sounds like a group of rave kids doesn’t it) and even mainstream Republicans tying themselves to the anti-tax rhetoric of the domestic terrorist in Austin.

You read that right. I called it domestic terrorism. Chapter 113B of Section 18 of the U.S.C. defines domestic terrorism in section 2331:

The term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

When this idiot disrupted the conduct of the IRS tax office by using a plane as a weapon of mass destruction, he committed an act of domestic terrorism. No different from what that McVeigh jackass did in Oklahoma City. This most recent idiot decided that he was upset at the government because the wanted him to pay his taxes. The tea-bagging idiots out there are upset because of taxes. I hear over and over that taxes are bad. Really?

Have these idiots ever thought about what taxes are collected for? They fund the federal, state and local government. So, the real issue must be that they don’t want to fund those institutions. Unfortunately, when those institutions don’t do their job, those same people are first in line to complain about it.

But TAXES aren’t the problem. We want, dare I say need, a government. Try living without one. I hear it’s nice in Haiti right now. Taxes fund government. Now I understand that there is plenty of disagreement on what government agencies should be funded, and how much funding each agency should get. The U.S. has one of the lowest tax rates as a percentage of GDP in the developed world. Of course, we get a whole lot less from our government, too. See the universal healthcare that is the norm in the EU as one example.

Find me a tea-bagger who is opposed to the police. Go ahead. I’ll wait. The government funds the police. Every officer on the street. Every rapid response member of the SWAT team, every person at the FBI, DEA, NSA, and TSA who KEEPS US SAFE every frakking day of the week is funded by taxes.

Now I’m not going to tell you that the police are perfect. I’m not going to tell you that the agenda pursued by all these agencies is always the right thing to do. But those are policy questions, on which reasonable people can disagree. Some people think that the “War on Drugs” is a moral imperative, and everyone who has anything to do with any drug should be locked up forever. Personally, I think those people are wackos. However, I don’t think that we should abolish the police because I disagree with the “War on Drugs.” We need an institution to enforce the laws that we as a society agree that we should follow. That institution is the police. We should fund them to do their job, and I’m happy to pay my taxes to fund them. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to lobby the government to change policy, though.

Find me a tea-bagger who is opposed to the military. Go ahead. I’ll wait. There are plenty of them that are opposed to the wars we’re fighting, but I haven’t found one of them that wants to get rid of the U.S. Military. The government funds the military. Every branch: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, etc. All of them are funded by taxes.

Now I’m not saying I agree with everything that the Military does. But those are policy questions. Reasonable people can disagree about policy. But the job of the military is to protect America from foreign attack. There are people out there who think that the best way to do that is for America to invade every other country and annex them. I think those people are wackos. However, I do think that there is a place for the military, and I’m happy to pay my taxes to fund them. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to lobby the government to change policy, though.

So it seems that all that’s left is policy questions. And wackos like the idiot in Austin aren’t interested in policy. Because policy is hard. It requires thinking and analysis, and you can’t have a discussion about policy with irrational idiots. Policy is hard because there is so much data. Policy is hard because there’s not enough data. Policy is hard because fourth and fifth order effects are really important. But what isn’t hard is politics. Politicking is about emotion. It has very little to do with policy. It has to do with how people feel, and how many of them feel a particular way about a particular topic. Anger and frustration are simple, powerful emotions, which are very easy to exploit politically by people people who have no interest in policy.

So I propose we start by examining our priorities as a nation. There are plenty of ways to do that, but I’m going to start with perhaps the biggest of our sacred cows. The United States has the largest military budget in the world. Period. We spend more than half of all the military dollars spent by the ENTIRE PLANET. Most of those other countries are our friends by the way. The rest of the top ten militaries spend less than 80% of what we do COMBINED. China (number two, right behind us) spends just 14% of what we do.

I propose that we could cut our spending to 20% more than their budget and still remain the dominant military power on the planet. That would save us about $500B per year. That’s PER YEAR. Read that again. PER YEAR. The cost of the healthcare proposals on the table vary, but they generally come in under $1T over ten years. We could pay for that in two. And that’s a revenue neutral proposal. Not one dime of new taxes. We’d still have one of the lowest tax rates on the planet.

But how can we cut the defense budget? The reality is that we can’t. The U.S. economy is built on the engine of war. The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about has become too firmly entrenched. Our entire existence as an economic superpower is built around our arms industry. More weapons are manufactured here than anywhere else on the planet. That’s not going to change anytime soon, because we value our military superiority over everything else in this country.

You can tell the priorities of a country by looking at its budget. What do we spend our money on? War. Building the machines of war. We supply today the people we’ll fight tomorrow. This has been our history. The most recent examples are our current conflicts: Iraq, where Rumsfeld supplying arms to Hussein, so we could invade and take them away; and Afghanistan, where we’re fighting the same people we armed to fight the Soviets.

Why do we do this over and over again? Simple answer: it’s profitable. Very profitable. And you wouldn’t want to knock capitalism now would you? That would be anti-American.


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