Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sorry, but 'civilized society' shouldn't cost so much

Inevitably, pro-government pundits at this time of year trot out that hoary old supposed Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. quote to the effect that "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society."

But, assuming that Holmes was being sincere, that was a statement made at a time when the burden of government rested much more lightly on people's shoulders than it does now. In 1920, total government spending consumed 12.8% of GDP, with federal spending at 7.7%. By 2005, that figure was 35.9%, with federal spending at 20.2%. Are we really getting more civilization for that money? Or are we just getting mugged a tad more vigorously?

In a column for the Christian Science Monitor that has since been syndicated elsewhere, Walter Rodgers not only quotes (misquotes, really) Holmes, but adds that "Paying taxes is an exercise of civic virtue akin to supporting one's country in time of war." But even Holmes might have balked at the bill we're currently paying for our "civilized society." And plenty of us might prefer the status of conscientious objectors -- or even draft dodgers -- when it comes to ruinous taxation as well as government's seemingly endless appetite for military aggression.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 19, 2009 12:45 AM  

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