Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A taxing conflict

The latest argument against war-tax resisters? The bastards are making pro-war "patriots" cough up more moolah to Uncle Sam to keep the troops in bullets and beer. At least, that's the line taken by Nathan Tabor at The Conservative Voice.

Anti-war zealots are refusing to pay their taxes because they say they don't want their money to pay for the war in Iraq. That means the rest of us are forced to make up for the shortfall. In other words, if you support our troops, you could face the prospect of an even greater tax burden, because some ideologues are refusing to pay their fair share.

Fair share? I thought that was liberal-speak. Since when do conservatives talk about the tax burden as paying our "fair share?"

Actually, I would have little problem with this argument if it was true. If the saber-rattlers are so sold on the wisdom of Bush's adventure in the Middle East, let them foot the cost and keep the rest of us out of it. That seems to me to be a fair allocation of the hefty bill for the foundering occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

But taxation doesn't work that way. The government doesn't come up with some carefully considered total tax number needed to pay for its oh-so-important programs that it then divides among the taxpayers--and then divides once again to make up for those naughty individuals who evade their "fair share." In fact, spending is largely unrelated to what the IRS takes in taxes, which is why the government runs semi-permanently in the red. And taxes are set at whatever members of Congress and the Executive Branch believe they can get away with--minus the occasional token tax cut to keep taxpayers from becoming too ticked off.

The portion of taxes evaded by war resisters--or tax rebels of any sort--just aren't collected. Nobody's tax bill rises as a result.

This fallacy that we're somehow all splitting a dinner check and leaving honest Cousin Bill holding the bag if we skimp on our portion pops up every April 15 when newspaper editorialists and goo-goo pundits wag their fingers at us, urging us to do our duty. It's usually so-called progressives who tut-tut when the IRS announces that tax compliance has dropped below 85%, warning that honest folk will have to shoulder a heavier burden as a result. Now conservatives have joined the scrum, substituting "patriotic" for "honest," but otherwise coming off every bit as nannyish and self-righteous as their supposed ideological opponents.

I take the convergence of nagging as strong evidence that liberals and conservatives alike are drinking Uncle Sugar's Kool Aid. Whatever differences they may harbor, they share a deep-seated desire to keep the government fat and happy--and that means convincing us poor sheep to cooperate in our fleecing.

Sorry, but I'm not buying the sales pitch. I've always admired tax rebels for denying a few morsels to the government's maw, and I especially admire war tax resisters for holding back even a few dollars from the funds allocated to a bloody business.

Let's starve the beast, if we can.

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