In the world of politics, there are issues that are always contentious. Taxes is one of them. When a politician starts talking about taxes, the response ranges from those who don’t really mind taxes all the way to those who believe taxes are from the devil and the government is robbing you. Does a middle ground exist? If so, where?
Paycheck and Potato Salad
In my observations of American culture, I find this financial issue interesting (and sometimes humorous) simply because the culture is so polarizing. On the one hand, people are upset about not having all of their paycheck and not knowing what’s being done with their money. On the other hand, people gave $55,492 to a Kickstarter campaign to help make a single bowl of potato salad. America has within it an ironic juxtaposition between spending money on useless things, and hoarding money so we can spend it on useless things. As C.S. Lewis once said (paraphrased),
“It annoys me when people say, ‘Why did you give that man money? He’ll probably just go and spend it on alcohol.’ My reply is, ‘If I kept it, I would have spent it on alcohol.’” -C.S. Lewis
As Judas Iscariot misjudged his own righteousness (John 12:5), we Americans do the same when it comes to taxes. I do not believe taxes are inherently wrong, and I will attempt to make a persuasive argument on how taxes could be used more effectively.
Taxes: The Donation Model
I believe the major problem people have with taxes is not the fact that the government is using their money, rather it is the fact that they have no say in how the government uses their money. Imagine with me a scenario where you get an envelope in the mail or an email from the government. Within the mail you find a multiple choice document where you have multiple check-boxes with listings such as:
You can check as many boxes as you want, and you list what percent of your taxes go to each checked item. With this much control over how the government uses your tax dollars, do you think there would be as many complaints? Most of the complaints seem to revolve around the government using your money for things with which you disagree. A model like this would not only alleviate that frustration, but it may even cause people to feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that they are making a difference in their country.
I don’t know about you, but if my tax dollars were spent on issues hand-picked by me, I know I wouldn’t care as much about taxes. After all, I would probably just spend the extra money on something stupid anyway.