Freethought Almanac

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Paying Taxes When Hell Freezes Over

The following is a commentary in an ongoing series of “Reflections” by John Mill. John Mill is the radio persona of Ronald Bruce Meyer and can be heard on “American Heathen.” The American Heathen” Internet radio broadcast is aired, live, on Friday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm Central time on

Paying Taxes When Hell Freezes Over

A Reflection by Ronald Bruce Meyer

Let me see a show of hands: If you stand on a principle, then violate that principle, that makes you a hypocrite. How many of you are hypocrites? I don’t see too many hands out there.

Now, how many of you hate to pay taxes? Ah! The hands go up. Well, not only are you all hypocrites, you’re in the company of Sarah Palin, the Cato Institute and the Tea Party, among many others. I guess you wouldn’t like paying a little more taxes to balance the budget, right? You’re probably saying, “When hell freezes over.”

OK, if you don’t like paying taxes, then here are a few things you would like to do without: paved streets or highways, traffic signals, bridges, truck stops, 911 emergency services, public hospitals, flushing your toilet, clean water, garbage collection, the court system, the police, public schools, state universities, social security, Medicare, elected officials, national parks and the wildlife in them, assistance in a natural disaster, safe food, safe drugs, safe buildings, weather reports, patents, copyrights, clear radio and TV stations, US currency, the Internet, laws against murder, theft, etc., prisons, a passport, a US embassy, insured deposits at your bank, museums and libraries, buses and subways, air traffic control, and zoning laws to keep a gas station from being built next to your house or a gun range next to a playground.

Like most of us, when we pay our taxes, we don’t get a receipt showing what we paid for with our taxes. Maybe the IRS should include a receipt with your tax refund, in case you need a reminder. But I did leave out a few important items from my list: national defense, for one. You Teabaggers should man up and pay your taxes because wars are expensive and I’d bet my house you wouldn’t pay for them if the IRS didn’t force you to. Or donate a son or daughter to fight them if they weren’t drafted. It’s easy to accept what somebody else pays for; it’s at least tolerable when “everybody” pays for what governments do.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. famously wrote, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." So, if you think you have rights in the USA, think about this: it costs tax dollars to defend those rights. Don’t be a hypocrite.

Now, before I go on, I have to take back something I just said: “everybody” doesn’t pay for what governments do. I mentioned this in another reflection, but there is one group that receives benefits from government, funded by tax dollars, but contributes nothing for those benefits. The churches.

In fact, your tax dollars are supporting the churches in the US. Not directly, no, but indirectly, yes. You see, just like the anti-choice zealots who want to de-fund organizations like Planned Parenthood, claiming that every tax dollar given to them frees up a dollar that can be used to provide those horrid abortion services – every dollar of tax relief for American churches is just like a dollar of support for religion from taxpayers: you are taxed more so churches can be taxed not at all.

Now I know conservatives and Christian Nationalist Republicans wail about big government and wasteful spending. They hate welfare cheats and freeloaders. They also, famously, say no government benefits and services should be unfunded – except, perhaps, stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So when are they going to get the churches to stop being freeloaders pay their fair share?

Probably when hell freezes over!

Copyright © 2010-11 Ronald Bruce Meyer. To hear an audio version of this Reflection, click on this link: Taxes When Hell Freezes Over

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.

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