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Taxes, Government, and Romney

January 24, 2012

Lines from Romney last night: “I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. …I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”

This is precisely the problem with the Republican governing style. Bear with me for a moment as I bring this back to taxes and what taxes accomplish. Republicans neither believe nor understand that “government” is a HUMAN institution in no way different from businesses, charities, and non-profits. Yes, it’s populated by people who can be wasteful and dishonest. But, by and large, governments are most often populated by public service do-gooders (I mean this in the best way) who would HAPPILY give a little bit more to their nation, whether in terms of money or time, to make it a better place for others, their children, and ultimately themselves. Public service attracts that mindset. To put in Ayn Randian terms that Republicans can understand, they forget that the fruits of one working for her/his self-interest accrue as much to government as entrepreneurial corporate endeavors. In sum, Romney’s statement reveals a flawed understanding of human nature, as well as an uncharitable view of the way government operates and the ends of taxes.

Viewed properly, government is a non-profit that works for the good of everyone. That we think otherwise is merely the result of years of Republican propaganda, epitomized by Reagan’s message, paraphrased, that government is the enemy. This is echoed in Romney’s “not a dollar more” sentiment above. Either could only be spoken by a person with a deep misunderstanding of how government works in human affairs. Our taxes, then, properly understood, are a form of cooperative work. It may not be charity, but it’s much, much, much better than the self-interested goals of profit-taking/making.- TL

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