allhatnocattle (allhatnocattle) wrote in talk_politics,

A case for higher taxes?

*inspired by a question from patriotress, a Tea Party type gal who wants her taxes lowered

In principle I am against low taxes. Not that I like paying them. A full third is missing off my pay every month, and it grows to nearly 40% after including sales tax on purchases (9 outta 10 provinces have a provincial sales tax as well as the federal one, Alberta is the exception).

Taxes pay for the services we all enjoy and need. They are a necessary evil. Lower taxes means that the nation either has to cut services or go into debt. Americans seem perfectly happy to not have socialized healthcare and to drive on shitty roads. I like nice roads, nice schools, etc.

What we're really talking about is value. I get the feeling the frustration in the Tea Party is they are not seeing much bang for their bucks. They hear about a lot of waste. So by lowering taxes they force government to streamline, eliminating the bullshit and get down to the basic function of government, governing. And not be in the business of providing services they seem so bad at delivering. As they say, they want small government.

I think if they saw value for their tax dollars they might change their tune. If FEMA showed up in NewOrleans during Katrina and saved people right away there's value in that. There's no value in responding to a natural disaster later the foreign NGO's and instead of saving people, they make the priority in shooting looters.

Ikea or Walmart furniture is priced right but so is the quality. Usually you end up buying a new futon every few year because it simply doesn't last. Where if you save up and spend a few thousand bucks on a decent sofa you'll have it for life. I don't mind paying more to have quality. I don't like saving a few bucks to get crap. Of course quality isn't always affordable and a large price tag is never a real guarantee of anything.

And it's the same with taxes... to a point. More taxes paid out should translate into better quality government services. Whether it's services we personally use every day (public roads) or emergency services (police, fire) or services that are not used personally (National Defense, trade negotiations). I would rather pay more to ensure better quality then pay less and put up with crap.

Of course by no means is this any guarantee of quality. There isn't a direct correlating relationship. Just as you can pay a lot of money for a Lexus that rolls over and doesn't stop, you can pay a scant fraction for a 1988 Dodge Diplomat that is totally awesome.

Tax revenue is often wasted on crap. We've all heard stories about the government buying $1000 hammers. Some of the crap is alright, depending on your perspective. Like the latest greatest nuke, as if we need a better nuke.

Private industry perhaps has a better track record for not wasting money. The problems of the recession can be blamed on big companies spending money on stupidity. I mean if I was a bank issuing loans, I might want to make sure the borrowers have the means to pay them back. If I ran a car company, I might not give a project manager a bonus for a car that doesn't work (looking at you, Lexus).

Waste is still waste, private or public. Private industry going into debt usually closes up shop under debt of bankruptcy. Where a government service is often propped up in a way so they can continue to provide services no matter the bottom line, able to deal with the debt in ways unavailable to private industry. This lends itself better for the consumer.

Healthcare is a hot button issue. In Canada we've been slowly moving towards more privatization. I listen to the proposals touting that private company can provide medical services cheaper and with greater competition even cheaper still. However I've never heard of medical services in USA having price wars or going on sale. Maybe without the government bureaucracy the private service will be cheaper, but I see no valid evidence of that. Government does streamline health services for better efficiency all the time. I would rather just have my taxes kept high and deal with the government.

Lowering taxes is an alright principle in the abstract. As I think I said before, I think the idea is to force greater efficiency and eliminate waste. But it seems to me lowering taxes guarantees the value per tax has to decrease as well. Without the revenue quality of services need to be cut, or services eliminated altogether. So which service to you relax on or eliminate? The DEA? How about getting rid of all those pesky anti-counterfeiting measures? Do you really need a chip in your passport? Or the 200 military bases?

Again it's a matter of value. Americans seem really proud of having the biggest, best, baddest military in the world. They can see the value of their tax money in this achievement. Just as Canadians see the real value in paying our taxes through having socialized healthcare. We all like value.</lj>
Tags: taxes
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