Some great work being done here by Professor Anderson (via Prof. DeLong). An increasing number of people on the right have fallen under Grover Norquist's anti-taxation spell. Some hold their anti-taxation opinions quite genuinely and deeply, most others simply nod in agreement when someone screams "It's your money." When I get my paycheck, I have a very strong reaction to the numbers on the piece of paper. There's the gross income number, and then further down the page, there's my actual takehome pay. It seems to me, when I'm looking at that page, that I'm taking home far too little (though still the majority) of the gross income. I'll call this my Daffy Duck reaction.
However, it isn't all mine. And this simple fact is what sends Norquist and many others into their little paroxysms of rage. When I look at my paycheck I think about the work that I put in to earn my money. And therein lies the rub. I did not labor in a vacuum. A highly structured framework is in place; it is that framework that allows me to earn anything at all. Freaky rightists will hollar that I believe very deeply that the state is entitled to tax all of my income. This is laughably silly, and made even more so by the gritted teeth and sweaty, quivering hand with which it is declared. Lunatics aside, this framework, and the right of the state to tax us for it, is the founding premise of our country. Simply:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Those are some pretty lofty goals. And they don't come cheap. The preamble also enshrines the necessary balance between the state's right (granted to it by those that live under this Constitution) to create a framework through taxation and everyone's inalienable right to the Blessings of Liberty. What is the right apportionment between state and individual? There is no single answer. This concept is as lost on the leftist central planners as it is on the rightist proponents of infanticide. (Mr. NORQUIST: I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.)
The reason we have the political forum is to continually negotiate that balance. Government is a heavy hand, and it is easy for it to overreach. Corruption is everywhere in our society and we must watch for it in both the public and private sector. I think about corruption when I look at my paycheck. How many of my tax dollars are being pissed away? Some, certainly. Some are being directed to projects that I think are fruitless or, worse, counterproductive. But that's why I vote, why I'm politically active. I think our framework is pretty good and I'd like to make it better. The Constitution sets the bar for our society very high, and it's taken us a long time to get it hitting on all 6 of its cylinders. The price of living in the US is the difference between gross and net income. Gross income is the total earnings from both my labor and that of the society I live in. My Daffy Duck side would dearly love that this were not so, but unfortunately for him and those like him, it is.
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