Ranticles: “On Taxes”

By Canticle

RanticlesI personally believe taxes are the price you pay to live with convenience and modern amenities in a society that provides those conveniences and amenities in a free environment. Government is the mechanism by which large collections of people create relatively safe communal environments in which to live their lives, and in an economy based as ours is on capital exchanges, this requires money.

I believe morons who think taxes should be done away with have but one point, and that is that they should have a choice as to whether to pay taxes or not. If they choose not to, they are then charged each and every time they make use of a service or amenity that was funded with tax dollars. Every mile of Government funded road they drive, every watt of government delivered electricity (in those areas where the Government is responsible for transmission), every gallon of government funded refinery produced gasoline or government subsidized food product (and in the US, that means every rice and corn derived product on the market), every cotton fiber they wear (as cotton is subsidized by the government in the United States), every product containing steel they use (as steel manufacturing in the US is government subsidized), every minute of the day that they spend in Government funded buildings, parks, or areas would be billed directly to them so that they have the choice of using the product or service or not.

In the real world, taxes are used to fund and protect the society in which we live, so I pay my taxes with the expectation they will be used largely on things I generally agree with. I'm not a stupid person, so I know full well that if I were given 100% choice of where to allocate my tax dollars, a lot of things that need to get done, wouldn't get done, so I'm even willing to surrender some choice to make sure Government runs smoothly and efficiently (personally, I wish tax forms came with a series of check boxes. 50% of your funds automatically go to a general fund the government spends as it sees fit, the remaining 50% you allocate to the departments of your choice).

What I do not believe, however, is that a government surplus fund is there for the government to spend as it sees fit. When there is a surplus, that is taxpayer money that was not needed for any allocated or budgeted purpose. That money, therefore, should be returned to the taxpayer in one of three ways:

Payment of the National Debt, if any. This is money that was borrowed (in Canada's case, largely from Canadians, so when you get interest payments on your bonds, you're getting paid your own money back, which is just weird), and is a mortgage on the future. It should be dealt with quickly and immediately so tax dollars currently paying off the debt can go to something useful.

Emergency Funds. Disasters happen, so some surplus dollars should go into a fund for emergency needs over the course of the year. Remember the Ice Storm that paralyzed Quebec and parts of Ontario? Yeah, if there were no emergency funds available, it would have sucked even worse. Same for the Manitoba Flood of the Century. At the end of the fiscal year, unspent Emergency Funds should be spent on the debt.

Tax cuts and refunds. This is taxpayer money, it should be given back. People who cry about Government Programs that have received cuts need to step back and realize that a lot of Government Programs are bloated bureaucracies that need to be streamlined. Not necessarily privatized, I am NOT a believer in private business trumping Government ownership in a lot of cases, and think that the situation in the United States with any one of a number of utilities is a prime example of why private ownership isn't necessarily superior to Government ownership. However, a lot of these programs run over budget, are ineffective, and need to be dealt with one way or another. If it means budget cuts, so be it. If I, as a Government Department, tell my superiors I need X dollars to operate, they budget me X dollars, and I come back and say I actually needed Y x 1.5 dollars, I should be fired, not coddled. When I come in under budget by Y x .75 dollars, and they cut my budget to Y x .90 to save some money, people should not scream that programs are being 'underfunded.'

That is money I have loaned the Government to spend on the budget to maintain the nation in a state that allows me to continue my life in the way I have chosen to live it within the law. If my loan is not used for the purposes I expect it to be used for, I vote against the Government to insure that someone else will use the loan appropriately. The interest on my loan is the society in which I live, after all. If there is money left over, I expect it to be 'given back.' Whether this is in the form of paying off debt, saving for an emergency over the course of the year, or directly back in the form of a refund or a tax break I don't particularly care, but if there's a surplus out there, it belongs to the people who made it possible.

And that isn't the Government.

Canticle on October 6, 2005.