Frequent letter writer Ed Konecnik wants to know how much of the money he earns belongs to me in the name of social justice, and why. But that’s not the right question to ask.
The real question to ask is, “Should any of us pay any tax money for government social programs?” The answer is, “Yes, we should.” Why? Because we live in a society. A society is a structured community of people bound together by similar traditions, institutions, or nationality. Societies have social responsibilities; things that contribute to and benefit the group as a whole. Yes, we are individuals, but our societal collective affords us many things that we do and have as members of the group.
Taxes should be looked at like an admission fee to belong to a society. You want to live in our country, and have the benefits of our society, then you have to ante up your fee. You should be happy to pay taxes because our system of government affords us so much that many other countries don’t have. Yet, on living standards we lag far behind the Scandinavian countries that provide free healthcare, free education and other subsidies to their members by taking more tax money than we pay. Citizens in those countries say they’re very happy with their lives and are glad to pay the higher taxes for the better services.
Ed sees our society divided between those who have enough and the “moochers,” and he resents any of his tax money going to pay for any moocher services. He can’t be a product of public education. He must have never lost his job through no fault of his own and taken unemployment insurance, been injured at work and sought disability, or have suffered any medical emergency that depleted his savings. He must never have been in the military or taken advantage of any veteran’s benefits. He can’t be a guy who is taking his Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or any other senior services because that would make him a moocher.
If so, lucky him. But he shouldn’t resent those who are not as fortunate as he and need a helping hand from society once in a while. As a good citizen, he shouldn’t want to renege on his social responsibility.