Just when I was getting sleepily comfortable with my worldviews, Harvard’s Michael Sandel had to mess with my head.
I’ve been cool with taxes for quite some time now. I wasn’t always. As a teen and into my twenties, I saw no reason why my hard-earned money should fund other people’s issues. I vividly recall being thrown back when my boss at the time, whom I admired greatly, was completely at ease with taxes.
Over the years, I’ve become at ease with paying taxes too. Now, when I hear “tax cuts”, I warily wonder which services we are going to lose. And beyond paying for items I use myself – universities, health, safety via police – I also want to live in a society where the hungry are fed and the homeless are housed. That society just feels better to me.
Until I considered it from another point of view. This other point of view forces a clash between my deep-seated sense of independence (I’m nothing if not “my own person”) and my commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms versus my desire for a kind, compassionate society and .
The reasoning goes like this:
1. Taxation = the taking of our earnings.
2. Taking of earnings = forced labour
3. Forced labour = slavery
ERGO: Taxes are a form of slavery.
If I don’t have the sole right to the fruits of my labour, that’s like saying the state is a part owner of me.
Readers. Agree? Disagree? Is this way of posing the issue a red herring?
If you have time and inclination, here’s the lecture: