Its the question that I ask every time tax season comes around. Well, actually, its what I ask every time I look at my paycheck and figure out just how badly I’ve been raped this time. I don’t like dwelling on it, because, as I’m sure everyone else who’s the not filthy rich CEO of a bank or other parasitic institution, the thought of how much I pay, and how little I get back, just gets my rage on.
While the apparent amount of taxes I pay doesn’t seem as much as some people, it is quite a bit. I’m not going to get into the details, but there’s quite a bit of money that gets flushed down the toilet of government. In theory, taxes are a vital part of a society. Tax money keeps government running. Taxes fund social goods like public schools, public roads, public transportation, infrastructure and the like. It even puts food on my table, since my paycheck comes from a taxpayer-funded NIH grant, so I can add public health to my list. So, given my own list of all the good things that my taxes help pay for, how could I possibly be pissed about having to pay?
The answer’s quite simple: most of my tax money doesn’t go to the public good. In fact, the public good the always the first thing to get cut when government funding gets lean. No, the reason why I’m pissed is because most of my taxes are wasted on bullshit. Even before the financial collapse, your know, the one brought about by Wall Street’s immense and insatiable greed, most of our tax money didn’t go towards the public good. The vast majority of the federal budget goes towards the military. No, that’s not right. Most of that money goes towards the military-industrial complex, which is basically Lockheed, Newport News Shipyard and the like. I wouldn’t even really be that upset, if not for the fact that these corporations charge insane amounts of money, but can barely deliver. Navy and Coast Guard ships are late and so below standards that ships are being rejected. Soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have been chronically short of all sorts of supplies since the start of both wars. There are no sci-fi weapons for fuck’s sake!
The point is, for all the money that gets flushed down the Pentagon toilet every year for the past few decades, there is very little to show for it. Aging equipment, shortages, massively over-budget (and aften underperforming) new projects all beg the question: why is there no oversight? Now combine the chronic irresponsibility of the military budget and combine it with two horribly managed wars, in which $9 billion (with a B) in cash simply drove out of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, flew to Iraq and disappeared.
What. The. Fuck.
Now combine that with the financial meltdown, the state of American healthcare and the state of American infrastructure. The fact of the matter is that Congress allowed the financial services market to become too large, while allowing specific institutions to become to large. Congress keeps dumping more and more money on these thieves, who caused all their own problems by hurting us and who, instead of using that money to help us, are predictably, helping themselves. This is of course at the expense of virtually everything else. Hell, the government could give every single person in the US a billion dollars (with a B) and it would be cheaper than what’s going on now.
So, what do we do about it?
Unfortunately, not much. Congress is in charge of tax law, and they’ve proved themselves to be quite resistant to any reforms that help we the people over we the super rich bankers who pay for your fucking campaigns. We could do like Larry Lessig and try to change Congress, but that’s much easier said than done. You could always refuse to pay your taxes, but that tends to not end well. There’s another option, but I’ll not speak of it, since only right wing shitbags get to talk about violent insurrection against the government without getting in trouble, so I’ll avoid it.
So in the end, I pay taxes because I have to. I don’t know what to about this problem, but I don’t care to have the FBI come and blow up my house and kill my family, nor do I want to go underground. Both of those seem worse than my current situation, but the question remains how to make real reform and make the government work for we the people. Congress and Obama have shown that they’re not going to go anything for us unless they have to. I’m going to make more noise, but that’s not going to be enough.