I have been a member of the War Resister's League since the late 1960's, when I refused to be inducted into the United States military at the Oakland, California induction center.
Each year, the WRL publishes a "pie chart" like the one illustrated (click on the image to find out how WRL does the calculations). The chart shows where our tax money goes.
I am a "tax and spend liberal," I guess, which means that I think that one of the most essential and central functions of any democratic government must be to tax members of society, and to spend the monies raised through those taxes to advance the public interest.
My analysis, in general, is that "I" will usually be better off (personally) if I contribute my money, through taxes, for common purpose projects than if I (personally) keep the money and spend it myself. The things I care about most I can't achieve on my own.
I want a healthy environment; I want good health care; I want a society that invests in education and that promotes the social welfare; I want good roads; good parks; good libraries; good public safety people on the job.
If I were wealthy, I could provide those kind of conditions for myself, by my personal spending. I could buy a huge tract of land and maintain and protect it as a kind of private environmental preserve. And I wouldn't have any problem with medical bills; I could afford really great insurance, and could pay other medical costs myself, if I needed to. I could send my kids to the best private schools and colleges. I could live in places where I paved the roads myself - or I could fly by planes and helicopters where I wanted to go, avoiding the roads altogether. I could hire private security guards, and no problems about the books. I could buy whatever books I wanted. No need to borrow them from a library.
Most of us aren't rich, though, and if lots of people care about the same kind of things I care about, the only option is to pool our money, and to spend collectively to create the kind of world we want to live in.
So, I do kind of think of "Tax Day," April 15th, as a kind of civic holiday.
Except for one thing. I don't think it's good for me that our government spends over half of every dollar I'm taxed for present, past, and future wars. I don't feel safer because of those expenditures.
Quite the contrary.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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