Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Without taxes, how would we get the poor to subsidize the rich?

I frequently come up against the accusation that, because I don't approve of taxation, I don't care about the poor. In many minds, paying taxes to a ruling elite equates with helping the less fortunate and supporting society. But take a look at the U.S. Debt Clock. So far this year, this country's ruling elite has spent $500 billion on war, $300 billion on interest to the Federal Reserve; $50 billion on subsidies; and $1100 billion on big-business bailouts. Is it just me, or does this look rather like slaughtering the poor and enriching the very rich?

Let's look at a smaller example that's closer to home. A few years ago, the government stole a lot of our money and imprisoned my husband for a year because we'd had the audacity to spend our money according to our personal values (like helping the poor and creating jobs) instead of contributing it to bloody mayhem and enrichment of the already rich. Since then we've been living on very little, due to a combination of the government's past persecution and our own personal choices. While Larken devotes himself to fighting tyranny full time, I devote myself to homeschooling my daughter. Neither of these endeavors is very lucrative.

In short, we have a pitiful income. Recently, the amazingly generous people on Larken's email list sent me lots of money as an anniversary gift. I was thrilled to have money to spend on homeschooling, and I spent a sizeable chunk of this windfall on things for my daughter's education.

It occurred to me, as I was carefully spending this money, that we had recently paid our township about $2500 in school taxes for the public schools that we've never used. Now, isn't the theory behind public schools that they're supposed to guarantee that all kids - both rich and poor - have access to education? And aren't taxes supposed to kind of even things up by making the rich subsidize the poor? Since we're obviously getting nothing personally for our $2500, I became curious about the income levels of the families we were subsidizing.

I could not find any information on our specific township. And I could not find any figures that I could absolutely trust; the best information I could find was on Wikipedia. But with that caveat, what I learned was that our county ranks 67th on a list of the richest counties in America, with a per capita income of about $31,000, and a median income of about $61,000. So the average family of three in this county has an income of $93,000 a year. I also discovered that the cost of living in Pennsylvania is almost dead average, and that the poverty line of $18,000 for a family of three is the same for all 50 states, despite the fact that the cost of living can vary tremendously from state to state.

I don't know exactly what our yearly income is, because it fluctuates a lot, and I don't manage our finances. But I know it's a heck of a lot closer to $18,000 a year than it is to $93,000! In short, we (the poor) are paying $2500 a year to pay for the education of relatively rich people's children. And if we refused to pay this tax, the sheriff or somebody would take our house away from us. If we said, "Hey, we're educating our own child, so we're just going use this money to buy educational stuff for her," people with guns would show up and make us homeless. Ah, the benevolence of government!

"Now, tut, tut!" I can hear the socialists saying, "It's your choice not to use the public schools. You're paying taxes so that those schools are available to everyone, including you. If you can't afford to educate your child yourself, just send her to the school your taxes have paid for!"

Well, isn't that a little weird? There's a hair salon just down the street. What if they decide they're going to force everyone in the neighborhood to pay them a yearly "tax" -- enough to pay for hair cuts for everyone all year, and then everyone will be entitled to haircuts free of charge? After all, our whole society benefits from people having decent-looking hair! If you want to go somewhere else, you're free to go somewhere else and pay for a hair cut. If you want to cut your own hair yourself, you can do that, too. But you have to pay the tax anyway, because the tax ensures that everyone in the neighborhood has access to haircuts. And if you don't pay the tax, the hair salon people will come with guns and take your car.

If you don't like that plan, I guess you just don't care about the poor!

1 comment:

  1. To be more accurate the hairdresser in your example would scalp the customers and slap a little ointment on their bloody skull.