Sunday, July 17, 2011

#198 / Taxation

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who served on the United States Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, said that "taxes are the price we pay for civilization."

It is now popular to think (or at least to say) that "taxation is theft." Statements along these lines are being made in connection with the current debate on raising the debt limit.

Just to be clear, the nation's need to raise the debt limit has been precipitated by the fact that our elected officials in the federal government have been spending a lot of money for services and things that are supposed to be benefiting us, or that we are at least unwilling to forgo, and since those elected officials don't want to tax the supposed beneficiaries of their spending largess, they borrow the money.

In that situation, to be strictly accurate, and particularly if we default on the debts owed, it isn't "taxation" that is theft, it's the expenditures. When I hire someone to install a new sink, or if or get a manicure, and if I pay for these things and services with my credit card, it is supposed that I will ultimately pay off the debt so incurred. If I don't pay, I've actually stolen either the services or the money loaned to me by my credit card company.

But, hey, if the whole nation does it, it's OK, right?

Theft is not paying your bills. At least, that's the way I look at it.

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