It’s tax season. With the circle of friends I have that means it’s the season to bitch about the government taking a huge chunk of our personal wealth. I’m assuming that most of my readers at least lean towards libertarianism so there is probably a strong sentiment that taxes should at least be greatly reduced if not entirely eliminated. That means I’m also assuming that you’ve heard a variation of this debate before.
A libertarian comments about taxes being too damn high. In response a government advocate claims that we need taxes because taxes enable civilization. What that individual means is that he or she believes that infrastructure, welfare, and other pet government programs are only made possible through taxes. Putting aside the fact that anything made possible through taxes can be, and has been, made possible through voluntary methods we still have the fact that such an attitude ignores a lot of terrible things made possible by taxes. Taxes, like anything else humanity conceives, has the nice cheery side that makes people feel good and the dark depressing side that most people tend to ignore.
Let me take a moment to talk about the dark side of taxes. A small percentage of taxes are used to build roads, schools, and civic centers. But a large percentage of taxes are used to directly hurt of kill people. For example, taxes allow the United States government to bomb wedding parties in the Middle East, allowed the Soviet Union to build gulags that were used to murder millions, and enable police forces throughout the world to imprison people for nonviolent crimes.
Here in the United States we get to see the dark side of taxes more obviously than most other parts of the world. We have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. Most of the kidnapped souls inside of the government’s great cages harmed nobody. They were victims of the war on unpatentable drugs. Their only crime was smoking, snorting, or injecting something that the government said they couldn’t. To fuel this war a great deal of tax money is sent to law enforcement agencies so they can put together Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, buy armored personnel carriers, and fight court cases when their victims decided to sue.
Speaking of war, taxes also enable the numerous illegal wars that the United States is embroiled in. Drones and Hellfire missiles don’t build themselves. In order to butcher Middle Eastern children the United States government needs to collect taxes to pay for its military. Aircraft carriers, fighter jets, bombers, tanks, and nuclear bombs cost a lot of money. Since I brought up nuclear weapons I will point out that taxes it possible for the United States to drop nuclear weapons on two major Japaneses cities (after making it possible for it to firebomb Japan’s most densely populated city). Going back in time a bit further we can see another thing taxes made possible: the genocide of this continent’s indigenous populations.
Taxes may have been used to build the roads you drive on and the schools you send your children to but they were also used to destroy the roads and schools people in other countries depend on. The next time you hear somebody talk about all the great things that taxes make possible be sure to remind them about all of the horrible things that are also made possible.