September 25, 1963
of Two Taxpayers
In my last report I "created" two hypothetical
Tucson families in order to study and compare the costs and benefits
of our five levels of government shared by typical lower and upper
income families in Arizona. We found that:
I promised in this second report to look at the other side of the tax dollar. Using federal government figures for the current budget, and with the help of cooperative officials in Arizona, I was able to construct this overall picture of services and benefits bought with the Carpenters' and Barristers' taxes.
WHAT THEIR TAXES BUY
Some people who write me seem to feel that government and taxes -- any government and any taxes -- are dirty words. To these critics the money taken "off the top" of a man's wages is forever gone down a rat hole somewhere. His money is seized against his will and given to his enemy, the government. The taxpayer receives nothing in return except perhaps oppression, more bureaucracy and a further erosion of his freedoms. Let us examine this line of argument as we probe whether the Carpenters and Barristers are better or worse off because of the heavy taxes they pay.
When Mrs. Carpenter and Mrs. Barrister go to the
grocery store and pay out money, they know what merchandise they
get in return. Let's see what kind of "merchandise" their families will
receive for the money they pay out in taxes this year:
SOME INTERESTING RELATIONSHIPS
From a study of the figures above I am struck
by the relationships that emerge in the "total tax dollar" of these Arizona
taxpayers. Let's review them:
Here are a few of the relationships shown here which strike me as most significant:
** The vast majority of our taxes go to pay for two things: 1) the cost of past, present and future defense of our country, and 2) education. If the public schools were closed and war were abolished, the Carpenters and Barristers could be relieved of roughly two-thirds of all their present tax burden.
** While Uncle Sam takes most of the criticism,
his performance compares rather favorably in some respects with state and
local governments. Note in particular these comparisons:
ALL GOVERNMENT IS SOCIALISM?
General denunciations of "big government" and
"high taxes" take on a superficial appearance when the details of government
are picked up and examined one by one. The editors of Human Events
Magazine, who talk about "Tax Freedom Day" as "the day you stop working
for the government", often hit this simplistic theme: "32% taxes equals
32% socialism. " In his book, The Conscience of a Conservative,
a well-known Arizona author expressed this philosophy very bluntly:
This statement is often repeated, and yet my analysis indicates beyond question that less than 1% -- if that -- of the Carpenter and Barrister tax money goes to finance "socialism", a term which properly means government ownership of factories, railroads and other basic means of production and distribution. The money Arizonans pay to buy national defense, the Post Office, parks, forests, schools, courts, highways, police, and fire protection does not buy socialism. It buys public services a free people in a free enterprise system want and could not do without.
These two newsletters have not been written to argue for more spending by federal or state and local governments. We must constantly search for economies and reduced taxes at all levels of government, and I pledge to do my part.
Economy should be our goal, but democracy cannot long survive if our freely-elected governments at all levels are treated and thought of as remote, inhuman, Frankenstein monsters which seize hard earned money from their helpless subjects, giving nothing in return. The purpose of these reports has been to help you arrive at a better understanding of what you receive for your tax money.
The people who talk about "Tax Freedom Day" have
a catchy way of dramatizing the amount of taxes paid by people like the
Carpenters and Barristers, but how much sense does it make to talk about
slices and ignore the size of the whole "pie"? People who grumble about
the heavy burden of taxes they carry should consider this startling fact,
buried in the Statistical Abstract of the United States:
Are the Carpenters and Barristers better off because
of the taxes they pay? I say, emphatically, yes.
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