Ted Cruz was the first major party candidate to announce a run for the 2016 Presidential election. One of his primary talking points is a hatred of taxes and a proposal to eliminate the IRS. The GOP has already done a very good job slashing the IRS budget, and making it much more difficult for them to collect revenue, prevent fraud, and keep the nation funded. Pretty much every issue the IRS has had lately with preventing fraud and collecting revenue has been due to massive Republican opposition to its very existence. A Cruz presidency would only go further to cripple the finances of the United States.
To his supporters, I humbly suggest this proposal. It’s a not an original suggestion, but I think it should be reiterated.
If you absolutely hate taxes, and despise the IRS, then I advise you to stop using any service or product that’s financed, inspected, or was originally created by the government. It’s only fair.
Ah, but you say you aren’t against taxes, you just want a flat tax, or a consumption tax. Better hope you’re in one of the top two income quintiles. If you are, then with a flat tax, you’ll probably see a hefty tax cut. If you’re middle class or lower, be prepared for a massive tax hike. An increase would be especially necessary if you want to maintain current funding levels. Also be aware that switching to a flat tax would not significantly reduce the complexity of individual tax returns. Nor would it eliminate the need for a revenue collecting organization. Unless you are willing to completely eliminate all taxes whatsoever, there will be a need for the IRS or some sort of equivalent.
If you don’t like a social safety net, however, and don’t think anyone deserves economic, social, health, or physical protections, then sure, we can get you lower taxes. Just don’t think you should do or access any of the following:
Stop using and drinking municipal water.
Regulations on water cleanliness and purity exist thanks to the government. Water treatment is heavily subsidized (and usually run) by local and state governments. But that’s okay, because private enterprise does such a good job making sure food and drink are safe for consumption.
Don’t eat any inspected food.
If you get a chance, read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. It’s a harrowing look at the conditions faced by immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. The most disturbing parts focused on the state of meatpacking plants. While officially written as a novel, Sinclair spent years researching labor and industry, and for seven weeks, he actually worked in the meatpacking industry, documenting the conditions and misery involved with food production in 1904-06 America. And it was bad. Disturbingly bad. The changes inspired by his work have saved possibly millions of lives and prevented billions of illnesses. The quality of food in America and the safety that we enjoy today is only possible thanks to the contributions of regulatory bodies like the FDA. Want to slash or eliminate the FDA? Hope you like listeria, salmonella, mad cow, and so on. Also hope you don’t like knowing when outbreaks do happen until you actually catch something.
Don’t drive on any public roads or bridges.
The Federal Highway system exists because of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. Ostensibly a way to transport military supplies and troops swiftly across the massive landmass that is the continental United States, it now allows millions of Americans the freedom to drive pretty much anywhere in the nation in just a couple days. Every road and bridge is inspected and maintained thanks to government funds.
Sadly, the current state of American transportation infrastructure is deplorable, and that’s entirely thanks to Republican funding cuts and holds. The anti-government wing of the government isn’t willing to pay to keep the roads, bridges, dams, and levees intact. And we all suffer as a result.
Don’t even walk on them.
You think the sidewalks build themselves, too?
Don’t bother visiting parks or zoos.
Same goes for parks – national, state, and municipal. It’s governments that maintain, monitor, police, and care for these public places. Do you care about Yosemite, Yellowstone, and so on? Do you want your kids to be able to visit the playground down the street? It would help to support governments and taxes. If you don’t support taxes, keep off the grass!
Don’t send your kids to public schools.
American public primary and secondary schools are hit and miss these days. Many districts suffer from major funding shortfalls. However, the state of American public schools is strong enough to ensure 95% plus literacy rates, and many students still make it into some truly excellent colleges. As John Green pointed out, even if you don’t have kids, it’s still important to support schools if you don’t want to live in a nation with a bunch of stupid people. Education is important for international competitiveness, crime reduction, and overall economic and social progress. If you need convincing on the value of a strong public education system, then you’re probably hopeless. And pretty dumb.
Don’t accept grants for college.
Billions of dollars of loans, scholarships, and grants exist each year for students attending college. The current system is flawed and increasingly expensive. However, without federal assistance, the overall rate of college degrees would be drastically reduced. An uneducated population is inherently a negative thing, no matter what Rand Paul tells you.
Don’t call the police.
This one is a no-brainer. Police forces are funded with taxes. There has been more attention called in recent years to police abuses, and that certainly is a problem. However, if you’ve ever had to call a cop… well, if you hate taxes, you can’t anymore. I guess that will just make you feel like you need to load up on guns even more now. Yay.
Make sure to avoid vaccinating your kids.
Most research into eliminating and controlling disease in the last hundred years has been funded by the government. Several formerly fatal diseases have been all but eradicated thanks to federally-mandated vaccination programs. Millions of lives have been saved, paid for by your tax dollars.
Don’t use a bank insured by the FDIC.
You think the big banks are bad now? At least they have the backing of the federal government. Before FDR, and the programs of the New Deal, major depressions as dire as the Great Depression occurred like clockwork every 20 or so years. Since the elimination of the gold standard, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and regulation of the banking industry, bank runs, massive crashes, and actual depressions simply don’t happen anymore. And just recently, the worst recession since the Great Depression was mostly caused by loosening of the regulatory framework that helped keep the financial industry (somewhat) in check over the last 70 years.
Don’t use paper money.
Individuals and businesses don’t print their own money anymore. And that’s a good thing.
Don’t flush a toilet.
Sewage treatment is certainly not sexy, but it’s immensely important to the running of not just cities, but a successful civilization. One of the biggest improvements in the quality of life in the industrialized world is the creation of a modern and well-maintained waste removal and treatment system. Thus far, projects on that scale work better and cheaper through public action. Governments clean up your shit, and for that, you should be grateful.
Don’t live in a red state.
The states that receive the most federal benefits (both at the state and personal levels) tend to be Republican-leaning states. The states that pay the most in federal taxes and receive the fewest benefits in return are all Democratic supporting states.
Don’t check the weather report.
Most weather satellites and radar systems were either installed by, or developed by government funds. Most televised and online weather reports get their data from the National Weather Service, and receive additional data thanks to the NOAA and NASA.
Don’t use cell phones or the Internet.
Jokes about Al Gore aside, the research that led to the creation and development of what we now know as the internet was mostly thanks to tax-funded government work. And yes, actually Al Gore does deserve some credit, and no he didn’t actually claim to “invent the internet.”
This is from Vinton Cerf, who is arguably more responsible for the “invention of the internet” than anybody else. And even he admitted the government (and Al Gore) contributions:
Don’t flip a light switch in a rural area.
Rural electrification only happened thanks to huge government investments in the 1930s. Before then, any power going to farms and remote houses had to occur from windmills and other low-tech means.
Don’t watch television or listen to the radio.
The FCC does more than just censor Janet Jackson. The massive network of radio stations, television channels, and other communications requires quite a bit of organization and regulation run properly. The FCC makes so much of what we watch and listen to possible.
Don’t take any medicine.
A lot of dangerous drugs get pulled from the shelves thanks to governments. Much research into disease prevention and cures is paid for via taxes. Get sick? You take medicine. Wait, you don’t want to pay for the regulation and inspection of those drugs? Well, you’d get along with Ron Paul. But you are also risking your health.
Please don’t mail a letter.
The GOP is trying hard to kill the Postal Service. Yet, despite its ten year project to gut the agency, it’s still the most successful delivery service in the world.
Don’t get on a plane.
Imagine taking a flight across the country. It’s not hard to do. Millions take flights every year. It’s the safest and fastest way to travel. Thousands of planes are in the air at all times. These complex machines are the work of brilliant minds, over a hundred years of research and development, and yes, government funding. Now imagine taking a flight with no inspection of these planes. Imagine taking a flight with no air-traffic control. If that sounds good to you, then you’re braver than I am.
Don’t bother spending time with elderly friends and relatives.
American life expectancy, as well as overall quality of life for the elderly, has greatly improved since the implementation of the New Deal. Social Security in the ’30s and Medicare in the ’60s contributed to a huge drop in poverty for the elderly. In 1960, more than 1/3 of elderly Americans were below the poverty line. By the mid 1990s, that number had dropped to around 10 percent. Social Security, Medicare, and other anti-poverty programs within the social safety net are the biggest contributors to this trend.
Don’t accept overtime pay.
Organized labor, combined with government regulation are largely responsible for the 40 hour workweek and modern overtime laws. If you don’t want to pay taxes, then you shouldn’t accept overtime laws. Feel free to work 50 or 60 hours without time-and-a-half pay.
NASA spinoff technologies.
Any technology that exists because of NASA research… you’ll have to stop using. Estimates have pegged the return on investment as very impressive. For every dollar spent on research, total economic revenue from the research and spinoff products is more than 7 dollars. Meaning, when NASA spends a billion dollars on R&D, 7 billion eventually makes it into the economy.
The list of spinoff inventions is pretty long, and includes…
Memory foam mattresses
Freeze dried food
Implantable insulin pumps
Portable cordless vacuums
Remote controlled ovens
Modern water filtration systems
Cell phone digital cameras
MRI and CAT scans
If you hate taxes, and believe the IRS should be abolished, then I propose you give up using all of the above items. Just to be sure, consult the below links and search for the 1800 plus items developed through NASA.
This post could actually be quite a bit longer. There are so many everyday services and products that exist thanks to our tax dollars. Could some of it be privatized? Probably. Would it be better? In many cases, no.
A democratic government is a tool. Like any tool, it can certainly be used to destroy rather than create. There are plenty of examples of government failures and overreach. The more responsive and responsible the electorate is, however, the more likely government will work for the people. Demonizing government has been a unique feature of the American political system in recent decades, primarily (though not exclusively) on the right. This counterintuitive approach guarantees that the party that claims government never works, proves this point by running government as poorly as possible. And yet, even as the competence in our American government erodes, it still successfully provides an enormous number of services that most Americans literally couldn’t live without. The only way to not use at least a few of the aforementioned products and services would be to completely live off the grid, far from any town or city. This is a difficult and extremely rare option. For everyone else, the collective action of governments does quite a bit of good. Taxes are how we make sure the collective action is possible. It’s not always fun, but it’s the intelligent way to run a society. The current government could use a dose of intelligence. The Ted Cruzes of the world are not the way to boost our collective IQ. Perhaps we should look elsewhere for our leadership.
Here are some other good links regarding the good that comes from taxes and governments: