When the thirteen colonies declared Independence from Britain on July 4, 1776, one thing they listed for a reason was because of unfair taxation. Among other things the British crown did to the colonies, the taxes seem to draw the most ire. The founding fathers understood the lunacy of taking orders and paying for the business of a monarch three thousand miles away. It was absolutely crazy that the colonies had to pay for the wars and greed of a monarch, King George III. The events leading up to that glorious day, like the Boston Tea Party and the many protests, were the hallmark of the colonies’ struggle for independence and respect.
The idea of taxation is as old as civilization itself. It usually involves the payment of wages either monetary or products produced to a government system. In many of the countries of the world today, there is taxes. It is usually said “There are but two certain things in life, death and taxes”. In America, taxes are mandatory and that is the case in most developed nations. The exceptions come in the ultra poor countries with no real organized government or countries that have deep oil reserves in their control. The scale of taxation is usually relative to the income of the populous. A richer country tends to tax more. A poorer country tends to tax less. Its a simple idea that you can only tax what your people have.
So what is the point of taxes? Why does anyone even care about 1776?
The point of taxes is to fund the government’s most basic functions. The functions are general welfare and defense. Over the decades, government has expanded its role in society. Government’s hand can found in everyday life. Its regulations keep us both safe and over-reach our freedoms. Taxes pay for government programs that provide general welfare for the population. In America today the social programs are numerous. Many countries in the world also carry out advanced social programs. Usually when a country provides numerous social programs it becomes known as nanny state. Most of Europe can be categorized as this. These programs provide services such as healthcare, child care, retirement help, education, and sometimes jobs. All of these programs are usually paid for by government via taxes.
Yes, in that year and that time the government was simpler. Compare the nanny states and America 2016 to the America of 1776 you would see a very different world. However, in 1789 once the constitution was ratified, would actually make a better comparsion in terms of government. The period from 1776 to 1787 was a time of war and planning, and organized choas in terms of government. So when war hero general George Washington was first elected by the contiental congress to be the first president, America’s government was simple and small. The constitution laid out the base plan with the addition of the Bill of Rights. The taxes in 1789 America were not what we might think of today. Every state had a different currency because during the colonial period they were all seperate entities under the king of england. Alexander Hamilton helped unify the currency by creating the Bank of America, yes that Bank of America. The US had just won a war in which they borrowed money from France. So the taxes asessed on the people were to simply pay for the war debt. The newly formed government only had war debt for the first 20 years or so. Taxes were simple and most government officials didn’t take pay because they were usually rich white men.
Today, we have a complex tax code with loopholes. We have many different types of taxes for different things. Sales tax, Income tax, Estate Tax, Gas Tax, Captial gains tax…etc. The question that I am posing with this comparsion is why did taxes become a way to control the population? Taxes were originally meant to help the basic function of government. Now it is still true that the government protects us. The US government spends about 800 billion to 1 trillion dollars on defense. It spends a couple hundred billion dollars on healthcare like medicare and medicaid. These are the two biggest expenduitures. However, now you hear presidential candidates talking about universal healthcare and education. Many people like to characterize this as “free”. I think they mean taxpayer subsidized healthcare and education.
I feel like its been forgotten that taxes are what support our government. In the constitution, it opens with “We the People”, an important phrase that allows the people to control government. In fact, we the people are supposed to hold the government accountable to the consitution. Unfortunately, the lack of constitutional knowledge and igonrance about politics has created an over-reaching, semi tyranical government that sees no limit to its power. Taxes is why we split from the England. So why do people want to pay more taxes so the government can baby them? Whoever thought that the government was a good babysitter was on something. The whole point of the consitution and the US is for personal freedom from government. The pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness. The problem that I have is that many other countries in the world are currently doing the socialist, nanny state type of government. The results are misleading.
There is no country that has a population and diversity like America that has ever tried socialism and had it work. Many of those high taxed countries that are socialist are homogenous (not diverse) and small like less than 100 million. If anything as Americans we should not look to Europe about how to run a government. Most of the EU is in major debt and economic crisies. America has been successful because of its relatively lower taxes and lack of a welfare state until the 1929. Its captialist nature has serve us well. Everyone must realize that paying taxes is mandatory but letting government do whatever it wants with your hard earned money is not. The evils of capitalism as some point out are that it takes advantage of the poor. That is only partly true. The poor have an equal shot to make it in an captialist economy assuming that there is a line of credit and money to be loaned. It is true that captialism has its ups and downs but a natural market is like a river on flat land, it wanders.
To make my point and end this “short” post, I want to describe a situation and think about how you might feel in either position.
George and Rodney are roomates living in the same apartment. They split all their expenses equally. George is a teacher at an highschool and he makes about 35,000 a year. Rodney is unemployed but makes his income on government programs like unemployment benefits and welfare like food stamps. Rodney’s unemployment checks, welfare checks and food stamps give him an income worth about 20,000. (15,000 cash 5 ,000 food stamps) George is taxed 60 percent of salary and only takes home 21,000. Rodney is only taxed 20 percent and takes home 16,000.
If you were George what would you feel about Rodney just doing nothing and getting just four thousand less than you make?
If you were Rodney would you be happy and how would you handle George’s resenment towards you? (You do nothing)
Just think about it, if your George you would probably be mad or jealous. If your Rodney, you have no incentive to get a job and maybe just ignore George’s feelings because its not your problem.
Thanks for reading!