Tag Archives: theft

Listen Up, Mr. Me Myself and I….

Okay–it’s cold and snowy and I’m old and cranky and in a bad mood. But this is the sort of attitude that just sends me over the edge!

A commenter responding to yesterday’s post about drug testing TANF recipients said, and I quote: “Government has no business in supplying food stamps, or any other of my earnings to those who did not earn it. Period.”

This is a standard meme employed by self-styled libertarians, the folks who like to equate taxation with theft and scorn recipients of social welfare programs as “takers” and “losers.”

I think the rest of us should make a deal with people like Mr. Clueless. Here’s my proposal:

You don’t want your hard-earned money going to the “takers”? Fine. You can keep every penny you earn. But you can’t drive on the streets that we suckers (er..taxpayers) paved. You can’t attend the public schools or universities we support. When trash collection day comes around, we’re going to skip your house, and if a real thief comes for your possessions, the police we support with our tax dollars aren’t going to respond.

If your house catches fire, tough. Hope you have a hose–and a private water supply. When you go to the grocery, you can’t buy any meats and vegetables that have been inspected by ¬†government agencies that our taxes support. If you get sick, don’t expect to be treated by a doctor we educated in a hospital we built.

Go buy all of those services–and the others that we supply and you take as your due–in the private marketplace. If you can.

And if the unthinkable (at least unthinkable to you) happens, and you fall on hard times, you’d better hope for charity, because we’re going to respond with the same human compassion and understanding of social obligation that you’ve displayed.

You see, the real “takers” are the people who unthinkingly accept all the benefits of a social infrastructure, but who whine when they’re asked to pay their fair share.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Someone posted a comment to one of my previous blogs to the effect that taxation is theft. This is a not-uncommon complaint of the far right–that government is using its coercive power to steal the fruits of honest labor from its citizens.

I see a different picture. I see whiners who want to steal from their fellow-citizens–people who accept and use the services provided by government with our tax dollars, but who are indignant at the notion that they should pay their fair share for those services. They drive on streets paved with tax dollars, call on police when assaulted, employ workers educated in our public schools, put their garbage out for pickup, are protected by the National Guard and armed forces…No matter how loudly they complain about “socialism,” ¬†I know of none who refuse to accept their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Talk about your “makers” and “takers”…People who want the benefits of our public infrastructure but get indignant when asked to pay for those benefits sure seem to me to fall into the “takers” category.

The issue confronting thoughtful citizens is not “how do we avoid paying for what we get?” The issue is “how do we insure that government is operating efficiently and fairly, that it is doing those things that are properly its job and not others?” “How do we ensure that we are paying a fair price for services we really want government to provide?”

Of course, addressing those (much more complicated) questions, and monitoring our governing institutions takes effort and a modicum of civic understanding. Fixing those institutions when they are malfunctioning–or not functioning at all, which seems to be the case now–will require real effort. It’s easier to whine.