Posts Tagged 'taxes'

I, A Tax Non-Begrudger

If you’re stressing over your taxes being due today, I empathize. I have SO been there (though not any more. Here are my tips on breaking free of credit card and consumer debt.) Now I am a tax non-begrudger. I willingly pay taxes because I want to live in the civilized kind of society they make possible.

I see roads and highways as the most valuable collaboration of all us U.S. taxpayers. They are also the biggest chink in the armor of the Ayn-Rand-libertarian-tax-begrudging folks. Try living a life without roads. We couldn’t get to work, school or grocery stores without the roads our taxes are buying. They cost trillions of dollars. Libraries and fire and police services are other cool value-adds that taxes buy, and that make me a tax non-begrudger.

HOWEVER. I do object to bad stewardship of taxes. The biggest offender is the Iraq war, costing us over 341 million per day. My strongest objection here is to the obscene loss of life. More insidious is the unprecedented national debt it is incurring, which my attorney friend Jack actually terms treasonous on the part of the Bush administration because it sabotages our nation’s future. I’d have to agree with his assessment.

That said, I still am a tax non-begrudger because taxes allow civilized society to sustain itself, allow things for the greater good to be financed. I reject the terms ‘tax burden’ and ‘tax relief’ because they pander to the irresponsible child in each of us. If you imagine you don’t need any greater-good things like roads, or fire and police services and a national legal system, please tell me your plan for staying alive. Taxes are just another cost of living that adults pay, like rent and utilities.

It’s easy to think we’d be happier if we got to spend all our money on luxuries instead of taxes. Read The Peak of Happiness to learn why that’s not true. Happy April 15th to you, and please post a comment if you like (right under the title of this post). Tomorrow I’ll report on my first meeting that I’m having tonight with my CRAG group (in which my household will pay self-imposed fines, like taxes, for using carbon over a certain amount.)

Photo courtesy of blmurch.

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Greed and Good In the Face of Climate Change

Today I need to transfer $1,000 from Thor’s and my checking account into a savings account for taxes. Oh the joy. I’m doing a contracted project for Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center here in Oregon (joyful work, no joke) and of course as a contractor I’m responsible for my own taxes. Hence the need to save for them.

There is a greedy one inside of me that could resent taxes if I go down that mental trail. I don’t go down it because I know taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society featuring common-good things like roads and schools. Still, I think there is a greedy one inside each of us. I’d say human greed is a major player in our culture’s health care crisis, unsustainable use of resources, and so on.

But there’s much more to our nation than greed. For instance: seventy-five percent of people in the U.S. give to charity. Most of them aren’t even in a bracket to use those contributions as tax deductions. And low to middle income people give proportionately more of their income than more affluent people. Too, millions volunteer their time in any given year to ease suffering. I’d say humans are both greedy AND altruistic.

So what? So this: we’re at a pivotal point in global history where the consequences of undisciplined consumption and greed — that would be climate change — are forcing us to make a jump in our evolution away from greed. The common good now is a bigger animal than roads and schools; it is slowing climate change by using less fossil fuels. Altruistic in some cases, economically beneficial in other cases.

And the willingness to lower our national carbon footprint has to come from us, the citizenry, because governmental regulations in the end will reflect only our level of willingness, and no more. I know many disagree on that, so I welcome your comments.