Tuesday 15 July 2008

Why we should pay taxes

We often hear this argument: “Why should we pay taxes when the government does nothing for us? The roads are all dug up; the hospitals kill you; the schools teach you nothing; we get nothing that compares remotely with the social services that the West takes for granted, blah blah”

Fair enough.

But why should the same yardsticks apply? The West may pay taxes as payment for services rendered by the government; we don't. 

Our taxes are protection money, paid to politicians to keep the poor from revolting and slitting out throats. The quality and quantity of services provided by the government just don't matter.

Think of your neighbourhood market. The police is obviously inadequate to provide security. 

And if the shopkeepers were to pay the legal price for all the electricity, water and space they use, they'd go out of business. Because they'll need to pass on the price to you. And you won't buy. You'll switch to some totally illegal vendor selling off the pavement somewhere else. So the shopkeepers break laws all the time. 

Enter the neighbourhood goon and his henchmen. They offer you protection from the law and themselves, in return of protection money. That is passed on to you, but it is lower than what you'd have to pay if (a) the shopkeepers paid legal rates and (b) hired adequate security, either from private contractors or from the state (by paying higher taxes so that the state has a police force worth its name).

The henchmen are unemployable, because (a) they are stupid and illiterate and (b) they are too many of them. 

Any attempt to resist is bloodily dealt with. No leader can co-exsist with the don.

Do notice that the very rich shopkeepers probably don't pay 'in proportion', that is, the protection money is a flat rate, not indexed to each shop's income. He gets away with this because he pays for his own security. And has his own 'connections'. He can make his own rules, at any rate, some of them.

Now, expand this to the power N, and you have a corrupt politicians, an under-taxed super-rich class , and millions of idle hands ready to strangle you. 

The politician control those hands, and extracts his protection by having you give him free rein over how he uses the taxes you pay. He pay keep mistresses, start business, stash away ill-gotten wealth in numbered accounts, or do whatever else meets his fancy. 

From time to time, he gets those idle hands to cut off some necks in riots, sending the unsubtle signal: “Next time it can be yours.”

The bottom line is that we should shut up and pay our taxes. Or we'd pay with our lives.

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