Ranticles: On Taxes
I 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
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
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.