Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is paying Taxes Patriotic?

The other day at the lunch table somebody was making fun of Vice-President Joe Biden for saying that paying taxes was patriotic. [1] This sparked one of our famous lunch time debates, I agreed with Biden, I think that paying taxes is a patriotic act. There was a this guy at the table a big Ron Paul Fan Boy [RPFB] his head almost exploded when I said that paying taxes is patriotic.

So, I am going to go a bit deeper into whether paying more taxes is patriotic or not.

First, I'd like to begin by stating explicitly what I did NOT say:

1. I didn't say, and I don't believe that everyone has to pay more taxes. I think that people should pay in their proportion to their ability to pay.

2. I didn't say that the more patriotic you are, the more taxes you pay, or that the less taxes you pay, the less patriotic you are.

3. I do not agree with blindly giving more money to the government.

What I did say is that I think that paying taxes is a patriotic act, just like voting, volunteering, or serving in the military.

So later, my friend the RPFB asked: if paying taxes is patriotic, then was Obama being un-patriotic when he increased the budget deficit?

My first reaction to this was to question the intention of RPFB, why ask such a dumb question? but then, I remembered that a long time ago there was a greek philosopher who went around asking questions like that, and he made a lot of people angry as well, his name: Socrates.

Now, I am not saying by any means our RPFB is in the same league as Socrates, but I think his question addresses deeper concepts and deserves an answer.

Well, first we have to understand what does it mean to be patriotic, right? I looked it up[2] and Patriotism means devotion to a country. So it means being dedicated, devoted, loyal.

Now, I'd would like to point out my personal opinion when it comes to loyalty and patriotism, I think it's OK to love one's country, and it's ok to serve. But one must be wary of those who invoke patriotism, and loyalty in oder to ask you to do something, you may or may not want to be taken advantage of.

Take your patriotic person Joe, he's a patriot, he loves his country, he wants the US to win the war on terrorism, he enlists in the Marines, he goes to Afghanistan, he dies in the war, was he patriotic? A lot of people will agree that he was a fine fellow, a patriotic, brave young man that deserves the highest honor you can give a person by making the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. Now, what about the leaders who decided to send him to war, are they patriotic for making him die?

Now, Suppose we have two Generals, Gen A and Gen. B. we have General A on the ground, and he makes a blunder during a battle that costs his Divisions to get decimated, thousands of troops die as a consequence of his decisions. Is he more patriotic or less patriotic than General B, who planned out a clear strategy to win without heavy losses in human life?
I think you'd agree that General B is no less or no more Patriotic than General A. Although willing to fight and die for the US maybe considered patriotic, sending marines to their death is not necessarily a patriotic act in itself.

I see paying taxes to a lesser extent the same as willingness to die. Just like we need patriot Joes to defend the country, we need taxpayer's dollars to run the country. The difference is that paying taxes is a not a voluntary act, also, paying taxes may not get you killed by an IED.

Is willingness to give more money patriotic? Yes. Does that mean that a policy where you ask for more taxes is a more patriotic policy? Hell no. Well, it depends on the details, but as a general statement, not necessarily so.

Now, back to the Obama question. is he not being patriotic? Maybe, maybe not, his sense of patriotism is a value, a sentiment, just like Generals A and B, they may both be patriotic but one made a mistake and one didn't. Is General A less patriotic if he didn't win the war? Or because he failed at his task?

Suppose, that Obama made a huge mistake with the deficit thing (I don't know if he did or not, both Republicans with Bush and the Democrats with Obama doubled the budget deficit, why? I don't know, there must have been some kind of a good reason for doing so, I just can't comprehend it) does that make him less patriotic? Nope, I don't think so, unless he did it purposely to harm the country, nope I don't think so.

So in conclusion, willing to make sacrifices is a patriotic sentiment. Asking people to make sacrifices not necessarily. Causing people to make sacrifices because of a mistake, not necessarily related to patriotism.

That is all.

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