Taxes! Who needs them?

Life would be so much easier and better if we didn’t have to pay taxes. I would be totally independent. Live off my untaxed 401(k) distributions and untaxed Social Security check. Gasoline and everything else would be less expensive. And when Medicare kicked in, it would pay most of my expenses. Sounds like a win win.

Oh, I’d miss certain things. Like clean air, safe-to-eat food, drugs that work, air traffic controllers and cops. Hmmm … let me get back to you on that one.

Meantime, here’s a guest-column from an about-to-retire Treasury Department employee on the subject of taxes:

This may be more a rant than a column idea.


In my emails at home, I keep hearing from folks who seem to think that Americans are only interested in a society where each person takes care of just that person and maybe his or her family. Is this true? When did people in this country forget the idea of community and pooling resources for the greater good? Is our society willing to pay the price necessary for what we have come to know as civilization?

The citizens of this country need to think long and hard about what they want from their government, and then agree to pay the taxes necessary to fund those services. That goes for the city, county, state and federal governments. Many people seem to be generally in favor of having military, police, fire departments, teachers, paved streets and highways, Medicare, Social Security, etc. But when told this will cost them, many also seem unable to grasp the fact that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Because of the changes in the private sector over the last 40 years, during which union membership has waned and corporate profits became more important than employee pay and benefits, there is little sympathy among our fellow citizens for pay freezes, reduction of benefits and changes to the retirement systems. As I have heard: “If I don’t get (fill in the blank), why should a public employee?”

Pulling back from the idea of supporting the greater good and society as a whole hits public employees, federal and state, military and civilian, pretty much right between the eyes. Insisting that one’s taxes must always be cut and never increased without paying attention to the services one wants is illogical. I understand the necessity of living within one’s means. What I don’t understand is cutting one’s budget to the extent that one can’t support the necessities.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find any joy in the idea of living in a country where the prime motivation is avoiding, to the maximum extent possible, the payment of taxes to support civilization. If you agree, then remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and speak out on things that concern you. Go to bat for the bond issue to support your local schools, parks, and libraries. Support your community by being part of the equivalent of a barn-raising back in the pioneer days. If each of us as an individual citizen does not participate to build our civilized society, we will not have one.

If we don’t, where the current climate impacts public employees is apparent to all of us, I think. I have served this country for the last 35 years in military uniform and as a state and federal employee. As much as we may want to serve our society and our fellow citizens, if the political will and public money aren’t there to support us, we may need to be considering other careers.

Treasury G-Woman


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