Why taxes are important

by Linda Beale

Why taxes are important
crossposted with Ataxingmatter

The so-called tea party adherents and many libertarians, treat taxes as robbery, thinking that “it’s mine and the government has no right to it.”  That crazytalk, which most would realize if they ever had the opportunity to live in the brute-force world of no taxation.  It would be oligarch rule or the wild west without the civilizing influence of towns with governments and sheriffs to keep order.

With midterm election day just around the corner, maybe it’s worth reminding everybody about the reason that all advanced countries have strong tax systems.  It’s likely the case that none of us really enjoys paying taxes, and some of us complain about them all the time.  But most of us recognize that taxes are a necessary part of supporting a democratic government and a civil society.  Without a tax system, the rich and powerful would be able to do whatever they wanted.  There’d be no FBI or SEC to investigate their wrongdoing, no cops to arrest them, no courts to bring them to justice, no prisons to put them in.  Most of the rest of us would be subjected to conditions closely resembling slavery–or at least the conditions of the early twentieth century, when mineworkers could be bullied, beatup and even killed by “Pinkerton” thugs hired by mineowners, when union representatives might be murdered to keep them from inspiring workers to join together to fight the owners for reasonable wages and benefits, when old people had nothing but the charity of neighbors and families to live on, because companies didn’t provide pensions and there was no Social Security organization in government.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.  Luckily, there is an increasing attention to this issue in the blog world, to counter the “taxes are evil” mantra of the neo-conservative and libertarian right.

See e.g. (in addition to the information here on ataxingmatter):

I Heart Taxes  (see, e.g., Baby, Taxes Drive Your Car, regarding federal funding for satellites making the GPS system possible)

Kay Bell, The Good Side of Taxes

The Tax Literacy Project

Taxes support democracy.  Taxes fund government services and goods, including court systems and national defense, which protect your life, your property, and your constitutional rights.
Taxes support economic growth.  Governments use taxes to encourage economic growth in numerous ways such as maintaining a stable currency, enacting and enforcing laws that protect both workers and employers (their life and property), and helping to build and maintain large and dependable energy, transportation and communication systems.
Taxes support your daily quality of life.  Taxes help you and your family buy a house, breathe clean air, have safe food and drugs, and travel safely and efficiently on highways, trains, and planes.  Taxes help pay for your health care (in the form of tax benefits or direct care) and they pay to educate you and your family.  Taxes help you at work (e.g. enforce contracts, provide safe workplace) and help you at play (e.g. national parks).