An Assembly of Pieces

James Anderson Merritt's piecemeal thoughts and observations, and the occasional attempt to put some of the pieces together.
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All material except cited quotations Copyright (C) 2004-2008 by James Anderson Merritt. All rights reserved.
Friday, July 18, 2008

In today's Santa Cruz Sentinel, I read a Letter to the Editor that trotted out the old Progressive mantra, "Taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society." The problem is that the level of taxes, and the nature of the civilized society to be purchased by those taxes are not decisions left up to the poor citizens who must pay the bill, but rather to the elected (and often, unelected) elite who get to rule in the name of all. Invariably, these rulers want to pay for more "civilized society" than the ruled can afford. Or, more often, they manage to deliver just the bare minimum of the services of civilization, while the people's money disappears down a black hole, to magically reappear in the pockets and bank accounts of the rulers or their cronies.

If taxes really are the price we pay for civilization, I think we could pay a lot less and get just as much true civilization as we do now. On the other hand, Will Rogers said, "thank goodness we don't get all the government we pay for." In truth, we are paying so much in taxes that we could purchase airtight Big Brother totalitarianism. As a matter of fact, we're well on the way to getting that level of government "service," but luckily for us, the forces of graft, corruption, and incompetence skim off just enough to prevent the government from having sufficient resources and vigor to truly enslave us all. So I guess even crooks serve an important purpose in the political ecology.

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