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. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Taxing Talk

  1. Funny, I just did my Debt Ceiling post last night. We pretty much agree. We need to cut some and raise some. There is a huge amount of spending on stupid stuff, just like there are zillions of dollars out there that are being hidden by off-shore accounts or other immoral accounting shenanigans.

    What’s making me see red, besides our country’s bottom line, is the parties that are using this issue to bludgeon out political victories in elections that haven’t even happened yet. (IE, getting heaps of what you want but continuing to refuse to give up a single thing.)

    But that’s politics in 2011…

    • oop, I haven’t read it yet. Must get caught up, again!

      and I agree on your last point. Too much of “politics” is politicking/campaigning, rather than doing what is best for “the people”. Although, again, “the people” are many and varied, so, that is hard to do when one is basically interested in simply holding onto one’s job.

  2. My father and I are of completely different political mindsets. Not just on the debt ceiling, but especially on what our taxes go towards. Many years ago, we made the agreement that all of his taxes would “go” towards supporting the military, etc., while all of mine would “go” toward social services. Yes, I am well aware that it doesn’t *actually* work this way, but it makes both of us feel better about paying taxes. 😉

    • Right, I figure if someone doesn’t want to pay taxes, depending on what level, then one simply opts out of government services (federal highways, the local or state police departments, Social Security). Makes sense to me! 😉

      • Too bad we can’t actually opt out of anything. I’d like to opt out of public education and Social Security, for instance. You can not take out easily enough, but you have not choice but to pay in.

  3. I have a couple thoughts on this one. As a mom of two special needs children, we do have secondary medicaid healthcare coverage for our children. we have private primary insurance through my husbands employer, but it does not pay for everything. There are many support services my children get (PT, OT, Speech therapy, ABA therapy for my autistic son) that are only partially or not covered by private insurance. We could not in no way afford all the therapies out of pocket for them. I consider this an investment…it has been demonstrated over and over that early intervention as children with disabilities saves money in supports when they become adults. I pay taxes too, and I feel this kind of spending benefits the society as a whole, as my children will be much more likely to be employable and pay into the tax base as adults.

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