As the old saying goes, "in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes."
While that statement is absurd in the fact that we all know it leaves out too many other certainties in life, it is nonetheless true. And a clever point made by Ben Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, in regard to taxes that I believe many people just don't understand.
Taxes are charges or levies placed upon citizens of this country in support of the government. In modern times, these payments extracted by the respective legislative body — be it local, state, or federal — come in monetary form. They are mandatory allotments set by the respective governing authority in order to pay for a variety of necessary functions and services such as war expenditures, maintaing law and order, aiding welfare or unemployment, or helping with public works.
The government imposes these taxes on the products we purchase, on the land we own, and even on the income we earn. And while nobody gets excited or is happy to see the government take a portion of anything we personally have earned, it is one we not only have to pay — but one we should pay.
All across our country there are people screaming to abolish taxes and for the government to basically get out of their affairs. Many of these protestors have banded together and have joined organized events called Tea Parties.
While it is inherent human nature to rise up and defend what is ours — in this case our money — it is important to remember that the funds in our bank accounts are only there because of the free economic system that our government established. It is also the services and programs it runs that protect and safeguard that capital for us.
All over the television, Internet, and radio at these so-called Tea Parties, I hear and see generic, ridiculous statements like "No Big Government," "Hands Off My Piggy Bank Uncle Sam," and the worst one, and unfortunately a common one,"Just Say No To Taxes!"
If the statements weren't made with such acrimony and the signs not waved around with such angered intensity, they'd actually be comical. In all honesty, many are actually protesting the fact that Obama is in the White House, not taxes at all, because none of these same folks were complaining when Bush was in office and passing his own version of a stimulus bailout package.
There are people who are peacefully protesting a potential rise in the current federal tax rate by publicly displaying their opposition to more federal spending. Yet, it is baffling to see the number of folks at these demonstrations who scream and yell for the government to completely go away.
Just say no to taxes? It sure sounds great on the surface, but do the folks holding these signs really comprehend what they are asking for? Unless they have a comprehensive plan to overhaul the American system with another revenue source, my guess is no.
I know we live in the land of the free, but if we "the people" are not going to pay any taxes, we will soon be living in the land of the free rein. That means we will all be free to do whatever we want, including rob, cheat, steal, and murder our way to a "better" life. Basically, return to our caveman days or a post-apocalyptic scenario like the one in the movie The Postman. (And trust me, that was a bad movie and it would be even a worst scenario!)
To put it in more realistic, basic terms, without taxes who will fix the roads we drive on everyday? Who will deliver clean drinkable water to our houses, provide affordable education for our children, or even pay for our soldiers to protect this country we all love so much?
It is understandable to want to keep taxes down as much as possible and protect what we've earned. After all, we all personally worked for that money and it seems to get harder and harder to stay ahead of our mounting monthly expenses.
Instead of screaming, however, simple and generic comments that we believe are clever, but in reality make no sense in the economical free market our Founding Fathers created, wouldn't it be better to stand up and fight for where that tax money goes?
In all this shouting and anger over taxes, I don't hear or see anybody actually demanding a break down of where their taxes go. No where do I see folks complaining about specific governmental programs or functions that our "donations" go to fund (aside from the aforementioned general animosity toward more bail-out money).
Poverty, peace keeping, environmental protection, law and order, welfare, deficit, transportation, space exploration – these are factors we all love and care about. Thus, let's make sure the money we fairly and rightfully owe go to the best use possible, instead of just complaining about owing anything in the first place.
Whether you like to admit it or not, the government is a huge part of what makes this country great. Without it, the United States of America as we know it wouldn't exist. So, let's fight for the programs and services that make this country the best place on earth to live, not take away from them.
As Mr. Franklin succinctly put it, there are only two certainties in life. Only one is certainly worthy of getting upset over.