What to talk about today? Hmmmmm…
Well first up, after my brilliant discourse yesterday I thought I’d recheck that video of Obama and it wasn’t anywhere near as extended a response as I remembered it. Then I viewed a couple of videos of him speaking at various forums, and he seemed pretty feisty in those instances.
So I may have overstated my case in yesterday’s blog, but even so I still think there could be a kernel of truth regarding Obama. And even if that is not the case, I still like my premise as a general rule – that being overly correct to the detriment of our real passion is not a good way to go.
Now you, the reader, need to be prepared for me to make retractions like this, perhaps even regularly. The truth is, until you speak your mind, sometimes you don’t know what your mind is. It is in airing these thoughts that my ideas tend to crystallise. Most of the things I will talk about in my blog will not be from the standpoint of an expert. Instead they will be partly formed musings which I will air with you, clarifying as I go what I do believe and perhaps learning along the way how much I don’t know. But isn’t that really what most dialogue is about? People who have an opinion, and in sharing it with another person learn from the experience and come away with a more informed point of view? Only in this case I am the only one speaking, so I can only hope that in the process I uncover my own ignorance or at least recognise where my arguments are weak. I’m pretty honest with myself (and sometimes way too hard on myself) so there is fair likelihood that I will admit such things and hopefully learn more.
So, moving on, I saw on Facebook a comment “Screw Panama. Taxation is theft”. Not sure about the screw Panama bit (I’m guessing a reference to tax havens?) but the Taxation is theft bit – what a load of crap that is. Tax pays for roads, schools, hospitals, police, defence, the courts, regulations that keep businesses honest, and so on and so on. I can’t see how someone could pay for that any other way – a user pays system would involve ridiculous amounts of red tape etc.
As a matter of fact, lots of people don’t stop to think about the fact that their taxes pay for such things. Some make it their priority to pay as little tax as possible, or no tax at all. Tax minimisation isn’t my topic today, so I’ll move on, but just in passing I don’t have a problem in not paying tax that I don’t have to, but the concept of paying none at all, or working strenuously to avoid paying tax gets my goat.
The argument for “taxation is theft” is the concept of being forced to pay something (ie tax) without your consent, whether a service is provided or not, and I’ll leave that detailed theoretical musing for others to undertake. Some posit that the services provided by Government could be provided by a free market, and we could then choose who we pay what to (ie exercise our own free choice). So we rub up against the free market vs government regulated argument. I’m not fully up with that whole issue, but I rather imagine that most people argue about the extent of government rather than its existence at all. So I’m prepared to accept (for the sake of this discussion) small government rather than big government, as the absence of government entirely would mean some of the most basic safeguards that we need as a society to survive would not exist. I’m sure the anarchists would mount a spirited defence against this, but for now I want the keep the focus on taxation being theft, so I’m going to take the stance here that some form of government is necessary. Indeed for those of us who are having this debate, we live in a Western society, and assuming we wish to stay in our country we have to come to terms with some form of government.
The reality is we live in a society where services are provided, and I therefore seriously doubt that a person who holds “taxation as theft” could in practice act that out, and either refuse all Government provided services, or find a way to pay for them on a user basis. Indeed there is no way that a citizen of a country could avoid using Government provided services, as even the rules governing employment are provided for or regulated by Government bodies. So either leave Australia for a remote island or cough up!
Now a modified response could be that the current system of taxation is unfair, and therefore constitutes theft of some people (ie the rich) compared to others. That’s a different argument. That buys into the concept of the rich paying more than the poor, and whilst I’m broadly in agreement with that concept (probably based on concepts of mercy) I wouldn’t know where to start in terms of agreeing what is fair and what is not.
So there’s my spiel for today. I’d like to think I have a good point, though it’s easy to fool myself when there’s no opportunity for response! And I know I have cut off a whole range of other related arguments (minimising tax, anarchism, government vs free market). But I will reiterate what I said earlier – the reality is we live in a country where we do benefit from the taxes being paid, so either cough up or try to find somewhere else to live happily that fits your argument (good luck with that).