Taxation Without Justification

I pay my taxes every year with begrudging acceptance. I’m aware of the umbrella of security my tax dollars pay for. I’m grateful for the military, the libraries, the arts, the social services, the emergency services, and, if needs be, the basic necessities that are provided to me and my fellow citizens, in large part because of our tax dollars. I’m still not crazy about parting with the money. But until now, it seemed like a fair swap, $600 hammers notwithstanding.

This year my begrudging acceptance is morphing into raw fury. Paying taxes has turned from a civic duty to a nauseating leap of faith.

Now make no mistake, I’m a charitable sort. So much so that my accountant just informed me that the percentage of my income donated to charitable causes is high enough, for someone in my modest income bracket, to raise a red flag in the IRS dungeon deep within the bowels of the Treasury building.

Clearly I’m not adverse to lending a helping hand. I’m just not big on lending a trillion dollars.

I have no problem having my tax dollars pay for the victims of natural disasters. Following Katrina, and despite the horrific ineptitude of Brownie and Bushie, I’ve never for a moment regretted my money being used in the attempt to salvage what was left of the lives of folks I’ve never met and may well never meet. I’ll never fly in the space shuttle, but I’m happy to contribute to the well being of those who do. I’m happy to contribute to raw scientific research that may (or may not) lead to polished and societally useful applications.

Disease cures, time machines, environmental fixes, bring ‘em on; mi dinero es su dinero.

But paying taxes this year is different. It’s going to be impossible to figure out which distressed homeowners were duped, dumb, or avaricious, and treat each category accordingly. It’s going to be impossible to weed out the shady mortgage brokers, and the white-shoe firm hotshots who bundled together a bunch of toxic waste and sold them as bouquets of roses. And what exactly do you do with the greedy idiots who bought the stuff? Recapitalize them with your money, and with mine?

Yet our tax dollars are going to be used in ways even the best and the brightest can’t figure out, let along articulate. Geithner was one high IQ joke in his address to the nation. Not Mensa’s finest hour.

I think the shoe’s on the other foot this year. There’s probably a statute or two on the federal, state, and local books that makes it illegal for me to call for a moratorium on tax payments until the government gets its act together, so I won’t do that.

That said, it would certainly be righteous for the citizens of this nation to demand that our government fully explain, in terms that are clear to PhD’s in economics and Wal-Mart cashiers alike (and given the rash of layoffs, there may be some individuals who are both), exactly how the government plans to use our money this year.

And they should tell us before April 15th.

This year, that should be their due date.

If they don’t, interest and penalties, withdrawn from their salaries, should accrue for each and every public official who lives off the public dime, until such time as they set themselves, and us, straight. And if they have trouble paying their bills, they can wake up in a nervous sweat just like the rest of us.

No taxation without justification. Tea party anyone?