Taxes, Selfishness,
and the Country

This is not a piece about government waste. This a piece about taxes and how we think about them.

I am consistently shocked how so many people in this country are repulsed by the concept of taxes.

an opinion piece by: Jeremy Rist

Repulsed by the concept of taxes?

This thought occurred to me again recently when I saw a Facebook post from a friend joking about a little kid who got his first paycheck, saw how much was taken out for taxes, and was shocked. Here’s a link:

congratulations-to-my-brother-on-his-first-paycheck-and-his-discovery-of-taxes

The only shocking thing is that this kid didn’t know that he would have taxes taken out of his paycheck. That’s shockingly bad parenting, it is not shockingly bad that taxes get taken out of your paycheck. If parents don’t raise kids to understand why they pay taxes, then, of course, kids will be upset when paycheck time comes. If they don’t properly understand what taxes are for, then, of course, they will be disappointed. This isn’t “taxes” fault, it is poor parenting and a failure to educate. Teach these KIDS.

I believe that if you truly believe in something, then you put your money into it. For example, I can say that I’m a fan of Isaac Hayes and that I’m a fan of Led Zeppelin. But I really only buy Isaac Hayes’ records when I see them, and not Led Zeppelin records. This demonstrates that I am more of an Isaac Hayes fan, because I actually put my money into him.

What you put your money into shows what you believe in.

The funny thing about that observation is that all of these jabronis who claim to be super into America also complain about paying too much in taxes. “Patriotic people” want to pay less in taxes. These people believe in the country so much that they don’t want to give their money to it. I believe that if they really did love this country, then they would gladly pay their taxes. If they truly loved this country then maybe they would even pay more in taxes than they need to pay!

Why have we gotten to the point where the leader of our country is someone who has proudly dodged taxes for years??

That’s selfish, not smart.

That’s individual thinking, not collective.

If said person also claims to love this country, then they are lying. 

We have serious problems in this country, for example, education. Taxes support the country. If you pay taxes, you support the country. If you dodge taxes, you only support yourself. Again, this is not about government waste: this is about taxes.

Government waste is a problem and we should try our best to elect people and enact policies that won’t waste our money. But equating government waste and taxes as one in the same is a tremendous exaggeration and basically just an excuse to try to keep all of your money. I find that excuse to be too easy and intellectually opposed to the collective thinking necessary in a democracy.

One of the things that worries me about this dismissive attitude toward taxes is the selfish behavior it sanctions. It is a particular self-righteous and short-sighted selfishness that’s based out of a purposeful misrepresentation of taxes. Nowadays, I feel like this self-righteous selfishness is being taught like it’s a virtue. America doesn’t represent an ideal of democracy anymore. America is an experiment in selfishness.1

Over time symbols change their meaning.

Does the American flag that used to symbolize freedom and equality now symbolize greed and selfishness?

Our country was founded on the political philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Locke, but now it has disgustingly morphed into a fucked up setting for an Ayn Rand novel.

This is gross.

This is deplorable.

People, please teach your kids that they are not the most important individual in the world, but actually just one important human among many important humans.

Teach your kid to share because sharing is good.

Teach them to pay taxes because our country is good.2

Yes, government waste is bad, but the answer is not starvation.

Jeremy Rist

Jeremy Rist

Jeremy Rist is a Durham native and a Brandeis University graduate. In between producing and MC’ing, he has guest written for the Clarion Content and is a frequent contributor on our podcast.

Notes

1 But since America is a democracy then it means that we are all in this together and taxes are a literal representation of that notion.

2 Or at least should be seen as “good” in the abstract. Our country is bound by the collective thinking a democracy demands and it helps if you think of the institution that binds as “good” even if it might not be 100% purely good.

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