Tax Reform ?
By Ken Poland
Opinion | December 26, 2016
Taxes is certainly on most everyone's mind, this time of year. Everyone seems to have a little difference of opinion on just how to 'reform' taxes. The issues vary by geography, financial position, priority of public needs, etc etc. Local, state, and national taxes must be included in the formulas and who benefits, who pays, and how it affects society is a very important part of the debate.
How much government do you want? What is the function of that government? Who will benefit from each function? Who will contribute to the tax and how will it be equitable in relation to benefits?
We are a diverse society and no single answer is appropriate for all. We have extreme wealth, extreme poverty. There is extreme differences in education, health, age, and culture (race & sexual identity).
The one thing we all have in common is 'humanity'. All humans deserve respect and compassion from their fellow sojourners in life. Government cannot force respect or compassion. Government cannot force responsibility on any individual. Governmant can reward actions that show respect and compassion. Government can reward those who take responsibility.
We tend to think we live in a "democracy". Do we? True democracy allows absolute control by majority, regardless of how it treats the minority. No society has ever been sustained by this kind of government. Rebellion erupts and coalitions form. Dictatorships have tried to surpress rebellions but when the inequities are severe enough rebellion occurs. Survival is an instinct and majority rule cannot take that instinct away. Survival is the core basis on which human relationships are formed. Family, community, and country are all vehicles by which we hope to insure our survival. Majority or dictatorial rule will eventually destroy any of those relationships if minority needs are not met.
We are fortunate to have had some wise fellows who got together and devised a set of quide lines to allow the colonists an opportunity to form a government with just the right amount of restrictions and authority to create an environment that would meet the needs of humanity, as they perceived those needs to be. Was the first plan successful? Not really! They discovered there had to be some give and take (compromise & cooperation). The next try, a few years later, has been astonishingly successful. Was it perfect and sufficient in all matters? No! But, they were wise enough to provide means by which challenges could be made and amendments and corrections could be made. They did not establish a pure democracy. But, instead devised a republic based on democratic principles that protected the rights of a minority. Those minorities included race, religion, gender, economic position, etc. They were a little ambivalent about race, gender and economics. But, they specifically denied any religious favor, advantage or dis-advantage. Slaves (most of them negro), women, and non property owners were not given equal rights and privileges in society. The original constitution was not actually validated until after the first ten amendments were adopted. Since then, many amendments have been adopted and some recinded. Legislatures have adopted new laws, re-written laws, and recinded laws. Administrations have administered and enforced laws. The Judicial Branch has ruled on constitutional and administrative authority. The system works! And, I, for one, think we are indeed the greatest nation and will remain so. That is, if we each avail ourselves the opportunity and responsibility of debating all issues and voting our conscience.
Back to the tax issue! Taxes must be levied equitably in terms of ability to generate the revenue for payment. They must be distributed equitably in terms of individual needs and societal needs. The tax base must be broad and sustainable. We don't all agree on priority or the order of priority on these matters. However, taxes should not be used to attempt to equalize wealth or remove individual responsibility for self.
Taxes (all sources), service charges, and licensce & registration fees are all means of providing funds to operate society. It is mine and your moral and ethical duty to participate and honor that duty.
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