Monday, April 30, 2012

Taxes: The price of civilization

How to feel better about paying taxes.
Taxes are a bargain. Here's why:
Even if you kept every penny you pay in taxes, you wouldn't be able to afford the benefits you get by 'sharing' some of your wealth with the government.
"Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society" wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in a 1927 decision.
What do you get for your money?
Your country's borders and foreign interests are protected by a highly trained and well equipped military.
Within the country, we are protected by civil and criminal laws which defend us against all manner of offences. This is backed up by a police force which will restrain and if necessary incarcerate people who break our rules.
The food we buy in the grocery stores is scrutinized and so safe that we don't think twice about trusting it.
The network of paved roads that we can drive on without paying tolls is so extensive, and provides a benefit beyond merely our driving on it. It also allows for the economical transportation of most of the goods we buy.
Children are provided with an extensive and comprehensive education from kindergarten to grade 12, including trained teachers, suitable facilities and all sorts of enrichment so that they can me well prepared for life as adults.
If you are sick or injured there are hospitals and clinics that will help you get well again. If you are down on your luck there are systems that will help get you back on your feet again.
We maintain amicable foreign relations with other countries so that, by demonstrating with your passport that you are from Canada, you can gain access to many other countries.
All this (and much more) would be difficult to negotiate or afford on an individual basis.
Taxes are a pain, certainly. They take some of your money, and that's unpleasant. Paying taxes feels separate and distinct from the systems and protections you receive for paying them. 
It's a fair exchange. We elect people who decide how to tax us, and then they spend the money to benefit us all. That's no excuse for inefficiencies in the spending or in the systems, and we should buy the civilization we want at the best possible price.
How much is civilization worth to you? How much does it cost you in taxes? Even with all the forms, schedules and complex expensive tedium that comes with taxation, it's worth it.
We can do more together than we can apart.
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