Taxing Talk

I ended up having a very civil Twitter conversation the other day with @FunkyDung and @burghseyeview, who, politically speaking, are not on my page. It was primarily about the debt ceiling and how both parties are doing it wrong.

There was no sputtering or profanity (on my end anyway).

While there were points of agreement (especially along the lines of how both parties are doing it wrong), I think where we really would part ways is over the idea of taxes, or as another way of saying it, “forced wealth distribution”.

I’m not going to argue semantics here. It’s true that taxes are a form of redistributing wealth. Not exactly at arrow-point, to go with a Robin Hood metaphor, but, yes, more money would come from people who earned or had more money. It wouldn’t exactly *directly* go to the beggar down the street, but that could be seen as mere nuance.

In general, I am fine with the idea of taxes, and I am of the mind that if you have more money then you should pay more into the system. I fail to see the inherent evil in such a thing. (Disclaimer: I am not rich. My husband is not rich. Together, we are firmly in the middle class, with the hope that when we finish paying off our debt we will be… in the middle class.)

I would guess that the crux of the issue isn’t taxes or wealth redistribution per se, but the idea of what government is for.

I am not a tax lawyer or a political science major, so I am claiming no expertise here. I’m a mere voter, a fairly well-educated one (again, not necessarily well educated in politics, but I have a college education, and I know how to think for myself, and research facts, et al).

I tend to go along with the idea that paying my taxes helps my government do the things I want my government to do: provide for the public good in terms of education, protection from harm, giving assistance to those who need it (the social safety net? the welfare state?), and, in general, writing, passing, and protecting good laws for the benefit of its citizenry.

Do I agree that government is too big? I do.
Do I think that in order to reduce the deficit and balance the budget the government needs to make some deep, hard cuts to entitlement spending? I do.
Do I also think that in order to reduce the deficit and balance the budget the government needs to collect more revenues? Yes, I do.

I also want Congress to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Because if the American economy gets worse than it already is, I will probably become unemployed, and, frankly, I like having a job. I’m shallow like that.

If we could choose to not pay taxes, that would be something. If we could pick and choose what we would be willing to pay taxes for, that would be something, too. But I don’t think that not paying taxes at all is an answer, because it seems to me the corollary  to “no taxes” is “no spending”. And I think that “no spending” would lead to a collapse of the social safety net (welfare state?).

And I think that would be bad. Morally bad as well as economically bad.

Maybe this makes me a liberal patsy, a bleeding heart. I don’t know. This feeling, of the choices we are faced with as a country, that others are important too and some others need to be protected or helped — it’s something that lead me to supporting health care reform. It’s something I still feel strongly about.

I don’t think of paying taxes as getting my pocket picked or as being stolen from.

I think of it as paying for the things I am using, or things I will use, or things that maybe my children will have to use some day. The government definitely has to take steps so that my kids have things to use down the line without being bled dry on government debt.

I sincerely hope that both parties can see that far, too.

I probably don’t even have to say this, but I’m gonna anyway: Comments, if there are any: Keep it civil. And of a reasonable length, if possible. đŸ™‚