Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Beware the Ides of April. Tax returns and usually some taxes are due. The occasion for national carping is at hand. But set me down as someone who has never understood what the carping is about.

Americans pay fewer taxes per capita than Europeans, but, for us, they are always “too high.” I have no idea what anyone means by “too high”; in my seven decades, taxes have always been “too high,” but the economy did better when taxes were far higher than it has been doing for several decades when they have been lower. Is there a counter-intuitive possibility lurking here, namely, that higher taxes are the concomitant of a stronger economy?

I can imagine that when we spend twice as much per capita as they do on education and health, and get mediocre results perhaps, people have some grounds for complaint. But perhaps the complaints should be, not with taxes, but with the health-care industry and the public-education combine, which do not produce results commensurate with their funding. (I just love the blame equally shared here between one private-sector and one public-sector industry.)

Otherwise, I think that paying taxes is the patriotic thing to do. Talk the talk; walk the walk. If you sound off as patriotic, then pay up as patriotic.

I cannot imagine loving our country and not wanting to support our government, which, by the way, through our representatives, is intended to do as we wish it to do. If you are not paying attention and are not working to do see that it does what you, among millions, think that it should, you should blame yourself, not the government and not its taxes.

I cannot imagine not having most of the things which the government provides with our taxes. I know of no one who believes that government should not provide for the national defense or emergency assistance. I know of no one who wants to give up Medicare and Medicaid, and very few who want to give up Social Security. Most agree that we need interstate highways, research laboratories, national parks, and a lot of things which promote, or give assurance of, a strong economy and safety, health, and environmental quality.

Of course, I feel no pinch just now. I so hate to pay penalties and interest for underpayments that I overpay my quarterly estimated taxes. I do not know whether I pay less in lost interest than in penalties and interest, but I do know that I am getting a refund and a good deal for my tax dollar.

1 comment:

  1. Love the tie in with more taxes for less education and health care. Maybe the real correlation has more to do with the fact that there are more of us around and more of 'us' have some distorted sense of entitlement. It seems like everyone wants more without having to pay for any. An example would be with education. People keep on having kids and expecting the public schools to teach them but they do not want to pay more in taxes to fund that education. Then you have about 30-40% of the students legally qualifying for some sort of specialized instruction (special education, ELL/ESL) which takes staff and resources away from the majority of the students. All that leads to overcrowding, more discipline, etc. Maybe higher taxes isn't the answer (not that you said it was) but maybe a return to moral, ethical, and hard-working standards is.