"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


why I don't hate tax day

Wow, there's a lot of whining about taxes out there on the interwebs today.

I guess it's to be expected. Nobody likes the feeling of losing money, and sometimes that tax bill from Uncle Sam can take a big chunk of change out of your disposible income.

I hear you, honestly, I do. Here at the bottom of the tax brackets where they pay us just enough that we don't qualify for welfare and have to pay taxes, it hurts to see those deductions on my paychecks every month.

But. Over these last few years, I've come to a new appreciation of taxes. And it has a lot to do with having lived in a place where there aren't any.

See, because we pay taxes, we get stuff. Stuff like paved roads. Stuff like traffic lights. Stuff like there being someone at the other end when we call 911. Police who come when there's an emergency, and who don't expect to be paid a bribe in return for their services. Well-equipped hospitals that are staffed by licensed medical professionals and stocked with life-saving medications. School buildings that are in decent shape, and textbooks that are less than 10 years old for every child, so no one has to share. Free public schools so every kid at least gets a chance, even in places where the public schools are bad. Highly-subsidized high-quality public university education, so that, even with rising tuition costs, it's still possible to get a degree from a place like UT for under $20,000. (And it's still possible to get a PhD courtesy of the taxpayers. :) Regulated airspace and high-tech monitoring systems so planes don't fall from the sky. Inspected meat and dairy products so I can be reasonably sure that the things I purchase at the grocery store won't make me sick. Safe drinking water from the tap. An army in which soldiers get paychecks, and therefore don't resort to looting the countryside to feed themselves. Enforcement mechanisms for keeping the schools integrated and giving even the craziest ideas a chance to be heard. A basic sense of public order.

No, it doesn't work all the time for everybody, and there's serious inequality in this country. But things could be so much worse. There's a reason we're told to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." Life without government is bad. And, despite the fact that today hurts, we still pay lower taxes than any other industrialized country in the world. So stop your whining, write the check, and be grateful that you live in a place where everything works.


Blogger Amy said...

Great reminder!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 6:46:00 PM

Anonymous Lindsey said...

Today on campus, someone had attached signs to the trash cans that read, "Throw tax dollars here. That's where they're going anyway."

I'm not at the point yet where I really have to do much in the way of taxes... but it definitely never hurts to remember to be grateful for the mostly-functioning system we've got going around here. Thanks for the reminder.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 7:58:00 PM

Blogger Gary Snowden said...

I winced writing the check, but you've eased the pain a bit with the reminder of the many things that those tax dollars make possible. I too have witnessed some pretty abysmal conditions in Latin America where such taxes that are supposedly required are routinely evaded.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 10:37:00 PM


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