It’s Tax Day: How Charitable Do You Feel?


It’s tax day, and although you probably filed long in advance, I suggest we all take a moment of silence to close our eyes and imagine the millions of faces that are smiling thanks to the IRS forcing us to pay up.

Wait, what was that? You mean you tried to get money back this year? You mean you filed for tax credits and wrote off parts of your business so you could decrease the amount “given” to your neighbors? You mean you don’t want to pay more to Uncle Sam than you already have?

Behold, such malicious capitalistic greed! Such widespread neglect of our most important moral obligations! Such a perverse and corrupt society!

With all this talk about our obligation to cleverly shift the game pieces on behalf of those without the dice, we should be jumping for joy at the opportunity to celebrate our beloved Day of Taxation.

But we don’t, particularly because we understand that (1) this requires little genuine sacrifice, outside, perhaps, of subverting some subtle anarchistic impulse (you know who you are), and (2) we all, for th most part, believe that we know how to distribute our wealth more effectively than the federal government.

On tax day, even those who pretend that wealth redistribution is some high form of “charity” still try to come out on top, but by their logic, isn’t doing so no different than keeping life, liberty, and happiness out of the hands of the exploited masses?

Government certainly has legitimate purposes, and our tax money can and should be used to fund those legitimate purposes. But we mustn’t pretend that by submitting to those purposes our commitment to basic governance translates into or supplants Christian mission. We mustn’t pretend that some mechanistic scheme or safety net, however necessary we think it to be, constitutes some ideal of Christian charity or witness.

When we look at our pay stubs and see our dollars being automatically sucked out on behalf of the State, do we really feel the same satisfaction as when we voluntarily give our own time and resources to someone in need? And at the end of the year, when we aim to minimize our contributions to Uncle Sam, do we really feel all that “greedy”? Will our spending of that tax return result in something worse than the government may have accomplished?

Above all, shouldn’t we be aiming to empower and incentivize each individual to make these decisions, informed by corresponding institutions and, above all, God? If we are aiming elsewhere, can we really believe that a charitable, just society will result?

No one feels charitable on tax day because there’s nothing charitable about it. The essence of charity is voluntary sacrifice, and government intervention, by its very nature, works against such action.

If you think I’m wrong, I encourage you to write out a generous donation to the Bureau of the Public Debt on my behalf.

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  • Remnant Culture

    New post: It's tax day: How charitable do you feel? http://bit.ly/aBxjKN #tcot #tlot #tax

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  • http://twitter.com/mattress Matt

    Hmm, what are the legitimate purposes of government?

  • http://www.remnantculture.com/ Remnant Culture

    I would say the legitimate purposes of government include maintaining and enforcing the rule of law through courts, police, etc. (basically keeping us from killing each other). This can certainly be done POORLY, but I'm not an anarchist in the sense that I think we need to be rid of it all. Reasonable people can disagree on what's legitimate or not on the rule-of-law stuff, but I don't think there is a valid argument for economic redistributionism.

  • http://twitter.com/mattress Matt

    But you still think people should be forced at the point of a gun to pay for courts and police?

    I don't think we need to be rid of it all, but it could be funded voluntarily, or there could be multiple private police forces and arbitration courts that compete for peoples' business.

  • http://www.remnantculture.com/ Remnant Culture

    I think that could be a valid option. I think if we returned to true federalism and local governance (at the city or neighborhood level), the “gun-the-end” stuff would be diminished and democracy would be more effective. I'm a believer in governance based on the U.S. Constitution (without a lot of the distorting jurisprudence since it's creation).

    If there is local governance, people will be voluntarily moving to different areas and will have an incentive to pay attention to their governance and the ability to influence matters more directly.

    However, I do think there is still a role for the federal government, as (some of) the founders believed, and believe that at some point somebody's money is going to be used against their will in a democracy. Someone will lose eventually, and the goal is to minimize that.

    I haven't read extensively on the concept of voluntary funding of courts and police, but I'd be interested in any articles/books/etc. you could reference on the subject.

  • http://twitter.com/mattress Matt

    Mises has an interesting article about how competing police forces could work: http://mises.org/daily/4101

  • http://twitter.com/mattress Matt

    “at some point somebody's money is going to be used against their will in a democracy.”

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for lunch.

  • http://www.remnantculture.com/ Remnant Culture

    I understand the dangers democracy poses. As Madison believed, a *direct* democracy leads to faction, discord, mob rule, etc. I don't think democracy is good in and of itself, but I do think democracy is the best system when balanced [properly] with [proper] republicanism. The Constitution provides such a balance, but once again, even if it were followed the way it should be (and I *dream* of this), it will not completely erase the ability of factions to unite in localized capacities.

    Democracy allows for the debate, but that doesn't mean we can debate people's fundamental freedoms away (thus the purpose of the Constitution). The key is to find the balance. And although I'm against a lot of the paternalistic stuff people vote in, democracy allows for freedom of experimentation. If localized (which we are seeing less and less of) people can “vote with their feet.” Again, without republicanism and federalism, it doesn't work too well.

  • http://twitter.com/mattress Matt

    I agree, though the problem with a constitution is that it's not self enforcing.

  • http://twitter.com/mattress Matt

    I agree, though the problem with a constitution is that it's not self enforcing.

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/58918082617413632 Remnant Culture

    No one feels charitable on tax day because there’s nothing charitable about mechanical redistribution. My thoughts: http://bt.io/Gvjn

  • http://facebook.com/jurekryan Ryan

    I didn’t even know the Bureau of the Public Debt existed. Did you realize that the web address to your tax day post is 666? =D

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/192259863278141440 Remnant Culture

    On tax day, even those who pretend that wealth redistribution is some high form of "charity" still try to come… http://t.co/jHO5ed2M

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/192274221286686720 Remnant Culture

    It's tax day: How charitable do you feel? http://t.co/zbn7gdfM

  • http://twitter.com/valuesandcap/status/192291342041362433 Values & Capitalism

    RT @remnantculture: It's tax day: How charitable do you feel? http://t.co/Re4wBu5O

  • http://twitter.com/wesley_gant/status/192307835172950016 Wesley Gant

    It's tax day: How charitable do you feel? http://t.co/zbn7gdfM