“I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
A variation of that quote – “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society” – stands above the entrance to the IRS headquarters.
It’s hard to get excited about April 15. Nobody likes the idea that every time you get a paycheck some of it is swallowed by some strange entity called “FICA” before you ever get your hands on it. Nobody enjoys wading through the complicated machinery of the Internal Revenue Service every spring, fingers crossed that what you’ve already paid is enough, and that you won’t owe more.
Nobody enjoys any of that.
But I sure enjoy what “I” purchase with those taxes. I like dropping a letter in the mail and knowing it will be delivered across the country for less than half a dollar. I like hopping on I-10 and knowing I can drive from sea to shining sea on that same road if I want.
I like knowing the food I feed my children is safe. I like finding the shelves at the grocery full every time I visit.
I like that “internet” thing you’re reading this on right now.
I like the grants and loans I used to pay for college. I like knowing the money I deposit in the bank will be there for me to use when I need it.
I like breathing clean air and drinking clean water. I like using the computers made possible by NASA research.
I like the health care veterans receive at VA hospitals, and I like the jobs created in my hometown by one of those hospitals. I like the smooth operation of government from top to bottom – the quiet and peaceful transfer of power following every election.
I like the extra enrichment programs at my daughter’s school. I like driving my family in a car I know to be safe without me having to become a mechanical engineer to find out for myself.
I like knowing that if life takes a tragic turn or two there is a safety net waiting to catch me.
And yes, I like having the most fearsome military power in history watching out for me and my family, waking and sleeping.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Could all those things be better? You bet. Could the process of paying taxes be less-stressful? Oh yeah.
But when you look at all the things I get back from the federal government for the taxes I pay, there’s no way I could afford those things on my own. No way. I submit that unless your last name is Zuckerberg neither could you.
So please don’t complain about paying your taxes. Civilization is a bargain – at any price.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s in-depth approach to federal taxes – and the spending that follows them – from Everblogger Deborah Ludwig.