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[politics] This is tax day, and I love it - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-04-15 05:49
Subject: [politics] This is tax day, and I love it
Security: Public
Tags:politics
April 15th in the United States is tax day. (Well, April 16th when the 15th falls on a weekend, as with this year.) It's tax day, and I love it.

Mind you, every day is tax day. We all pay taxes when we buy gas or ride the bus or train for which diesel has been purchased. We all pay sales taxes at the cash register. (Well, except here in Oregon.) We all pay property taxes, either directly through our mortgages or indirectly through our rent. We all pay payroll taxes whenever we received a paycheck through statutory employment. But here in USAnia, April 15th carries all the symbolism.

Do I like filing taxes? Heck, no. The process drives me nuts. This is true mostly because of the Schedule C I have to file for writing income, and specifically the business expenses. I don't make enough money to pay someone else to deal with that stuff for me, so I have to track all the damned receipts myself. It's tedious and annoying, but it's how I can best optimize my tax picture.

Do I like paying taxes? Heck, yes. The outcome is extremely worthwhile. I like having roads and bridges. I like having emergency services available. I like having universal public education and public hospitals and child and family services. I like clean air and clean water. I like the space program and the FAA and the FDA and all the myriad machineries of government that ensure that the goods and services I buy are safe and perform as advertised. Heck, even though I often disagree with how the machineries of national defense are employed by our government, I like having them.

Conservatives like to pretend that government is the problem, but honestly, not a heck of lot of would get done without the enabling processes of government. Everything from stable contract law to decent public roads for the delivery of wholesale and retail goods stems from the government. Conservatives also like to pretend that they did it all themselves, and if they can get ahead in life without handouts, no one else should receive handouts either. Which is absolute bullshit. Programs ranging from government-funded education to the home mortgage interest deduction are handouts that conservatives benefit eagerly from. And let's not even talk about farm supports.

One of the things about being a liberal-progressive is that you have to be intellectually honest enough to recognize the role government and other people play in your life. Once you become that self-honest, it's very difficult not to also recognize you owe payback, to support that role for government and other people to play in the lives of those who come after us.

So taxes? Heck, yeah. They support the life I enjoy today, and they help pave the way for others to enjoy the same, or even better, life in the future.

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Katherine Sparrow
User: ktsparrow
Date: 2012-04-15 13:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, and to be even more intellectually honest, a huge portion of our taxes pay for the military industrial complex and war.
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Jay Lake: politics-rifleman
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-04-15 13:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:politics-rifleman
You bet. And I don't agree with much of that. But the solution isn't to "starve the beast", it's to retrain the beast. (And even the "starve the beast" types usually seem fine with the military industrial complex. They just object to helping other people.)
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Katherine Sparrow
User: ktsparrow
Date: 2012-04-15 19:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, there are other solutions besides starving the beast and reform, but I do agree that slashing social services with nothing in it's place sucks.
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Nicosian: dutch flag
User: nicosian
Date: 2012-04-15 13:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:dutch flag
That's our way of thinking of it here. (husb/and I) are in that comfortable kind of income level, and I don't MIND taxes. They pay for a nice society here where people aren't begging change for their healthcare, selling spaghetti dinners to cover their kid's chemo, we have a pretty decent quality of life.

And like the US, we have our governmental mis-steps, but the alternative is a brutal, conservative "every man for himself" society that i don't want. We've prospered, we've used these supports to get up on our feet, and it would be dishonest to now turn and deny the same to someone else. We have benefitted from unemployment, healthcare, etc, and now we pay in so someone else has a shot.

( likewise for most of the countries I've visited, there's a subtle but noticeable "we are a society, not a sea of islands unto ourselves" social contract concept, be it mandatory military service, in israel, to "please consider the elders and disabled" reminders we saw in china, to the extensive social liberties in the Netherlands where you mind yours and your neighbor minds theirs, but no one goes all getting their hands up in yours.)

I just, for the life of me, cannot grasp the american conservative view as seen from outside, the policians, as it's such a dishonest, cruel thing full of plot holes. Hell I don't understand OURS, either.
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Jay Lake: wry-NKPR_guitar
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-04-15 13:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:wry-NKPR_guitar
I just, for the life of me, cannot grasp the american conservative view as seen from outside, the policians, as it's such a dishonest, cruel thing full of plot holes

I live with that worldview every day, and many of the consequences it has generated, and believe you me, I don't grasp it any better than you do.
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Kevin Standlee: Not Sensible
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2012-04-15 19:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Not Sensible
The conservative-ultra-libertarian attitude IMO seems to be along the lines of, "Let everyone else sink; I'm going to be the one on the top of the heap." For an example of how well having (in effect) no government works, look at Somalia. You wind up with a degraded form of feudalism called Gangsterism.

I think some of the don't-need-no-guv'mint types assume that they'll all be Lord of the Manor when in fact most of them will end up being serfs. But by then it will be too late for them to do anything about it.
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User: radiantlisa
Date: 2012-04-15 20:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Either "I'm going to be at the top of the heap", or "I've got mine, eff you." I've seen a bit of that latter up close, and it ain't pretty.
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Kevin Standlee: Not Sensible
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2012-04-15 20:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Not Sensible
I think some of that latter group don't understand that without government, that "I've got mine" might not stay, unless they've got enough to reproduce all of the elements of government including personal safety. In other words, if you have enough resources to hire your own private security force, build your own roads, etc., then you can go set up what amounts to your own private country. But otherwise, you'll find out pretty quickly that government is more than just "takes money from me and gives me nothing in return."
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theresamather
User: theresamather
Date: 2012-04-16 00:14 (UTC)
Subject: Libertarians
They're wingnuts, not actual Libertarians. The real Libertarian Party members in my very conservative state (Utah) are more worried about legalizing pot and the rights of criminal defendants being trampled by the state. That was almost their entire focus at the state convention I went to two years ago, besides making sure Republican incumbents on the state level did not run unchallenged. It may vary from state to state, but that was my experience here.
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Kevin Standlee: Not Sensible
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2012-04-16 01:20 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Libertarians
Keyword:Not Sensible
Oh, I understand the distinction, honestly. It's closer to my own personal opinion, actually. The problem is that in many cases the bozos are driving the bus, not just riding on it.

My experiences in fandom have been most unfortunate with some of the wingnut self-identified "libertarians" who have defined it as "I can do anything I want without consequences any you can't." This leads to the nonsense of people who insist that the guv'mint doesn't do anything at all except take their money away, so why should we have any guv'mint anyway?

I can't say I enjoy paying my taxes (and I live in one of the highest tax places in the country), but they're the price of civilization, and I like civilization. But then again, my grandparents raised me to be grateful for the things I had, and I saw my grandfather working very hard as a construction worker building the roads, dams, etc. (yes, funded by the public) that make my way of life possible.
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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2012-04-16 06:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As a non-American, it took me years to understand that the underpinning of the conservative view was that they didn't think other people should get their money. Just as simple as that. Of course, that brought me no closer to actually understanding it.

I wonder if a key to impressing on such people the benefit of taxes is to point out that from a purely selfish point of view they benefit too from giving other people their money. A society that looks after the people at the bottom is a society with less crime, since people aren't so desperate, for example.
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-04-15 15:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Those who end up Republicans by choice rather than background seem to be looking at the wrong figure. There was an article our host pointed to a few months back interviewing some mover and shaker in DC from the Republican end of things. He'd become a Republican because he was a self-made businessman from working class large family roots who had a shock when he saw how much tax he was paying. The more he earned the larger the tax bill and this seemd wrong somehow, because he was focussing on the pure number of the tax bill and not on what he/his business were earning. It's the wrong way to look at it, but it's surprisingly common, from what I've read about US Republicans. They just don't see proportionality, they see the absolute amount and go ballistic over it.

Edited at 2012-04-15 03:26 pm (UTC)
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Steve: Anton Ego (Ratatouille)
User: anton_p_nym
Date: 2012-04-15 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Anton Ego (Ratatouille)
It's shocking how bad many "movers and shakers" in business are at evaluating return on investment (ROI) sometimes. Definitely knocks a hole in the "rational actors" argument put forward by some to defend laissez-faire policies.

-- Steve thinks humans in general are bad at evaluating ROI in terms beyond their immediate surroundings, so this shouldn't be so surprising. Yet oddly it is.
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-04-16 00:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree, though it's not just ROI. Part of it is fairness and part of it is just looking at the fact that those with moremoney really can afford just not more in total, but a larger proportion of their income/assets to be used for the general good instead of the indiidual good (as our host pointed out, most of them seem happy to pay for defence but not education or health, however). Money is not linear in its utility, which is another thing many of the microeconomists miss. Terry Pratchett had a good explanation about this in one of his Night Watch subsequence (not the one with that title, but I can't remember which one) when Vimes is using on boots. Vimes bought $10 boots which wore out in one season. Then he married money and could buy $200 boots which lasted far more than 20 seasons. Having the $200 in the first place saved him money in the long run. Hence, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. One of the few things I'm pleased about the current UK government on is the significant increase they've given to the minimum tax threshhold. If one is earning less than the estimate of basic living expenses then it's a poverty trap to tax that income.
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scarlettina: Radio Scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2012-04-15 14:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Radio Scarlettina
Tax Day this year is April 17, not the 16th. NPR explains it for us all.
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Larry Sanderson
User: lsanderson
Date: 2012-04-15 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: Si!
You get an extra day this year! Think of the interest!
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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2012-04-15 14:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree entirely. Even though I've never been a big earner, I've made enough to survive (obviously) and even when I have to pay the IRS on April 15, It hasn't been a big enough hit for me to complain. As you say, there is that world of benefits we receive (as well as the military-industrial complex which I, too, wish was a much smaller part of it) and I am reminded on April 15th (or its surrogate) that I am very, very lucky in my life.

I hope progressive stars are blogging and pundit-ing about this today!
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mlerules
User: mlerules
Date: 2012-04-15 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A-freakin'-men!
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-04-15 16:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:education politico
Absolutely agreed here.

I find it ironic that some small portion of the taxes I pay go right back into my salary, as a public school teacher.

Nonetheless, taxes are what we pay to have good services, and I'd sooner pay taxes than deal with the alternatives.
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Sue Burke: Escudo de España
User: mount_oregano
Date: 2012-04-15 17:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Escudo de España
Not only do I agree about the need to pay taxes, after dealing with Spanish bureaucracies, I love dealing with the IRS. (Though I live in Spain, I get some US income and must file taxes on that, so I deal with the IRS regularly. And with Spanish bureaucracy far too regularly.)

The IRS will give me any form I want anytime I want in various formats, for free -- no questions asked, no arguments, no lies about being out of that form. In fact, earlier this year I merely thought I should ask for a certain form, and a week later, it was in my mail box. (How did they know?)

The instructions are as clear as they can make them (Congress makes tax law, not the IRS), their decisions do not seem to be random, and if you need to ask a question, they'll actually try to answer it. Accurately, even.

Yes, it's a far from perfect agency, but it's still so much better than what surrounds me on this side of the Pond. I love dealing with the IRS.
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2012-04-16 00:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The IRS is telepathic. It does not, however, like Chrome.
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User: lindadee
Date: 2012-04-15 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree completely, Jay. Most of the time, I've just taken the standard deduction, but since buying a condo, I've actually had to calculate the deductions, and the year I bought the condo I actually had to pay an extra $6,000. So I've been on both ends. It's much easier to pay the tax when it's deducted every week from a paycheck, but in any event I believe in "you get what you pay for," and have absolutely no objection to paying taxes. I'd prefer more money go to things other than the military/industrial complex and the national debt, but that's a different subject for debate.
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madrobins
User: madrobins
Date: 2012-04-15 19:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
amen and again amen.

I would love to have more money, sure. There's always a way to spend it, or save it. But my taxes pay for all sorts of hallmarks of civilization: roads and schools and public health programs and all the things that are invisible benefits I enjoy every day.

I had an acquaintance who lived in the country, and bitched mightily about the taxes he paid. When he and his family moved further out in the country, and he discovered how much he, as a private citizen, would have had to pay to get the road between his driveway and the nearest highway paved, suddenly his tough-guy don't-need-no-gummint stance got all wobbly. When officials of that same gummint showed up after a snow-storm and plowed that road, gratis, he began to think that maybe his tax dollars weren't just going to hell or to line the pockets of layabouts. The benefits got just enough visible to make a difference to him.

Maybe it's asking too much for people to see this without a reminder? Maybe school books should be stamped "paid for by the citizens of our community," and there should be little signs every mile of roadway that say "your tax dollars, right here!"

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Kevin Standlee: Not Sensible
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2012-04-15 20:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Not Sensible
I get the strong impression that on roads and transportation, many people seem to think that the purpose of guv'mint is to build a road from where they live to where they want to go and nothing else at all, to keep other people off it, and to not charge them anything for its use.

Yeah, sure, that's a slight exaggeration but only slight.

I had an exchange online with someone who, when I was advocating for increased government spending on rail transportation and was contrasting it with road spending, said, "But building roads has additional benefits besides my own personal travel."

I said, "Okay, I'm willing to concede that if you will recognize that the same applies to the subsides we pay to rail and other public transport."

He wouldn't agree to that. As far as he's concerned, travel on those modes is solely for the benefit of the individual, and those individuals should pay 100% of their costs. He was completely blind to the fact that all transportation is subsidized in one form or another by the government.

But no, many people are completely convinced that all roads are paid for 100% by gas taxes (a proxy for a tolling-based user fee), and airports are completely funded by users, while other forms of transport just suck way their tax dollars. And there's no arguing it with them, because they know THE TRVTH.
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User: dsgood
Date: 2012-04-15 23:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Correction: This year, Income Tax Day is the 17th.
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2012-04-16 00:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Taxes, Oliver Wendell Holmes said, are the price we pay for civilisation. That's a pretty fair price, all things considered.
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nwhiker
User: nwhiker
Date: 2012-04-16 04:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, pretty much everything you wrote.

Paying taxes is also a measure of success, a testament to the fact that, financially, my family is doing ok, we've got plenty, and now we get to toss some back into the common kettle, ya know?

I have children. Taxes are the money that will ensure that the society and world they live in is a good place to be. It's money that will ensure that their future friends, maybe mates, are educated, and able to participate fully in society.
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