Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Doing your Civic Duty

Some are a bit more excited about paying taxes than you'd think they ought to be. Matt Stoller at MyDD relishes the opportunity:

I just paid my taxes, and I have to say, I always take pride when I do so. I don't like having less money to spend, of course, and the complexity of the process is really upsetting. But I am proud to pay for democracy, and I feel when I do send money to the DC Treasurer and the US Treasury that that is what I am doing. The right-wing likes to pretend as if taxes are a burden instead of the price of democracy. And I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don't want. Personally, I find banking fees, high cable and internet charges, health care costs, and credit card hidden charges much more abrasive than taxes, because with those I'm just being ripped off to pay for someone's summer home.

Patriotism is about recognizing that we are all connected in a fundamental moral and physical sense, that the war in Iraq is our war, that poverty in New Orleans is our poverty, that public funding to cure cancer comes from each of us and not just the scientists who have made it theirs. The tax burden we face is a very small price to pay for the privilege of taking responsibility for our own freedom and our own society. And the hatred of taxes on the right comes from a hatred for this responsibility. It's childish and immoral and unAmerican.

Now, what is a problem is the complexity of our tax system. Complexity is a tool that powerful elites can and do use to intimidate and control people without access to capital and connections. With modern technology, there is just no reason for this complexity anymore except the business coalitions that push for specific tax breaks and the politicians who love them. This complexity not only upsets and disempowers people like us, it empowers the powerful to skip out on their tax burden.

It's not a coincidence that Grover Norquist, the architect of the right-wing ascension to power, runs an organization called Americans for Tax Reform. People like Norquist, who are charlatans at heart and deeply unpatriotic and immoral, use the complexity in the tax code that they help to create to persuade Americans that taxes are bad. This is also true in states all over the country, where it is the unpredictability of property tax burdens and not the amount that causes schools to go wanting for funding.

Our tax code is the DNA of our nation's moral compass. I am proud to pay taxes because I take pride in America, and paying some tiny burden to keep our society running is an extremely small price to pay for being able to call myself an American citizen. The old expression 'you get what you pay for' is apt for all sorts of situations. People tend to express what they value in how much they are willing to pay for it. I am willing and feel privileged for the right to pay for my country. The right-wing is embittered to do so, if they do so at all. And that, more than anything, says something about how much they value this experiment called America.

The comments are full of kind words for all of us who think Washington could curb it's income without threatening civilization as we know it. And that's fine.

They are entitled to grin madly while Uncle Sam screws 'em. Myself, I'll be laughing my right-wingnut, America-hating self all the way to the bank with sizable Federal and State refunds.

I guess that makes me a cheat!

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