by J. Michael Atherton
The NH Republican platform says: “We believe that economies flourish when all people retain as much of their hard-earned income as possible.” It states that GOP members “Strongly oppose new taxes and fees…” and again their policy wants to, “Cut or eliminate taxes…” https://nh.gop/platform/ Their platform represents taxes as an evil to eliminate and ridicule at every opportunity. They resist paying taxes for the community that provided conditions necessary for them to earn it. They want to keep as much money as possible for themselves.
Such ungenerousness ignores that we must pay for many things that only indirectly benefit us. Direct benefits come, for example, when I buy a shirt. I pay money and see a direct benefit because I have a shirt in hand. But what about freedom? You can’t buy a pound of freedom at a freedom store. Nevertheless, we pay taxes to ensure we can live in a free country. There are many other examples. We must also pay to supervise such things as drug safety, the postal system, weights and measures, health care facilities, road repair, air traffic, care for veterans, youth, and the elderly, and on and on. Such communal needs are ever with us and essential to us as a sovereign nation. Paying for such things allows us to have a civilized society.
(New Hampshire Bulletin article: With Medicaid expansion back before lawmakers, supporters point to all that’s at stake http://bit.ly/3Hf5D9x )
The constant presence of communal needs requires us to pay taxes to maintain them even if I don’t see a direct benefit to me at any given moment. We all breathe air, for example, and we all benefit when agencies protect clean air on our behalf. Pollution as well as poverty, homelessness, and the effects of poor schooling overrun boundaries and affect everyone. To think otherwise means they also believe there should be a peeing section in a pool.
Additionally, the NH Republican anti-tax platform naively supports privatizing government agencies: https://nh.gop/platform/ Few public-sector things can safely be run by “for-profit” organizations because “profits” soon become exclusively what they are “for”. The grim history of attempts to privatize the public sector reveals a trail of suffering people, cheated patients, ruined
ecosystems, and fiscal irresponsibility. For example, witness the horrors of for-profit prisons with their bad food and overcrowded conditions. The profit motive dictates that they raise the number of inmates, and demote humane conditions. Cost cutting by “for-profit” organizations means they maintain profits by cutting necessities.
Republican ideologues must hope for a time when wealthy people live isolated in safe locations surrounded by a mass of people in need. Witness the gated community. But such isolation is not exclusive enough for some. There now exists gated communities within gated communities. Despite their guns, guards, and gates, the ocean will overrun these islands. History shows this occurring too often to ignore. They don’t understand (1) we are all in this thing together and (2) taxes are the price of civilization.
We should feel proud about spending this money. It’s quite an amazing bargain. In return for a few taxes, we get a civilized, humane, safe, and secure society. Without taxes we would have either anarchy, where we “freely” fend off attackers, or feudalism, where we “freely” bow to landed gentry. We can’t afford this so-called “freedom”. Political parties of all persuasions should learn that taxes allow us to build a nation that improves everyone’s life. Since Democrats have offered this idea for decades, Democrats can do the teaching.
About the author -
John Michael Atherton (Mike) has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy (after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school). He spent four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage to Cynthia Walter, the birth of their first child, and a PhD all at the University of Chicago. They moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where Cynthia taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. Moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment. Just add that they are great fun to be around and you have a winning combination.