Governing and Taxing

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This is an article I wrote in hopes to answer the question "Why do we pay taxes?" I hope I was able to do so in an intelligent but easy to understand manner.
This article was updated on 01/25/2010

Submitted: January 22, 2010

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Submitted: January 22, 2010

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Recently, I was asked a question by a grown man at my work place which inspired me to write this essay. I figured that hence there are a large number of users on booksie that are lot younger than I am, (I am twenty-two,) and yet another large number of users are older than I am, this would be an interesting topic to write an article on. Like most of my essays and articles, this too is supposed to be an informative article regarding something important in our day and age. Maybe, some of us can even learn a thing or two from this essay. If so, than I have accomplished a personal goal. I too, read informative articles regarding topics I deem important. I learn a lot of things from articles, so I deem them important.


“Why do we pay taxes?” was the question I was asked by this particular and anonymous grown man. At first, I thought he was joking with me due to his age and I in return gave a witty remark. My mother had taught me not to presume things. Ah, human habit, we fall into it sometimes. Regardless, the rest of the conversation need not be recorded here. (Hint, it did not go so well.) I was appalled that a grown man over the age of thirty-five did not know why we paid taxes in any given government. But, it makes a great article topic.


So, why do we pay taxes? Well, quite simple. We pay taxes to our government in return for it to provide us with certain liberties, rights, insurance and certain services. We pay taxes so people who run the government and who work for the government through various jobs can get paid like you and I do. We pay taxes so that it can take care of us when we are in need. The purpose of government has changed much through the centuries, shaped by each era's own challenges and discoveries. The concept of government has changed along with it. There are many political theories from many different periods of time which support, or reject the idea of government and it's purpose(s). Two things that has stayed constant over the centuries: government and taxation are related and go hand in hand on many more levels than the eye perceives at first. The second is the need to pay our taxes regardless of the government type your country has adopted.


Your next question is going to be what are some services that our government provides us with in return of our hard earned money? I have an answer. Taxation provides us with the following. Mail delivery, trash pick-up, police service, sewage, water treatment, fire department, libraries, public elementary school system, road construction, road cleaning, citizenship, representation and such. The list is fairly large and continues on for longer than I can count on here. Now another surprise thing though, your own local government may not be able to meet all of your community's need at large. This is true for most local governments in America. This is because there are always a lot of programs that are open and available, but it is just impossible to reach all as large communities needs are harder to provide for and require a lot of money. It is just impossible for the local and state government to reach everywhere. There are many reasons why. Reasons being the ones I have just stated, and those like scandals we read and watch about. Also United States is a very large country with very different demographics. This, needless to say makes things harder to manage.


I am trying to guess the next question. But what about all the stories I know and hear in which people are denied? The answer is simple, but it is even harder to deal with in my own opinion. The government tries to make it as difficult and sometimes as easy as it possibly it can in order to make sure that the right people who are in need can get access to what they need. It is impossible to write blanket legislations and blanket regulations which will apply under all circumstances and for all communities. How do you standardize the needs of an entire country that is distinctively different from one state to the next? It is improbable at best. When writing such packages and laws, the wording gets crowded and more difficult as legislators debate about language more than anything else. They debate about punctuation and even the connotation of the word. It is the tax dollars of citizens after all and they take that part rather seriously. I know, it's a shock. Unfortunately they only do that when it suits their desires and needs, and also when it is convenient for them. In addition, passing a legislation is an incredibly difficult process. Legislators who belong to one party will argue with the legislators from the other party as the ideals and theories are different of both. This will draw it out. Each will, hopefully try to come to an agreement. Which probably will take even longer than anything else. Then we have people who truly are in need of services and money provided by government but cannot access all. Like a great writer has mentioned in the comment section, there just isn't enough to go around to everyone. On top of which, government has other expenses which it is committed to. National Debt, to pay government workers, military research and etcetera, etcetera.


Thereupon, I would like to provide more necessary information regarding taxation in general. Considering United States of America's short history, as someone who was a foreigner to the American Culture (needless to say, I am not anymore) it is obvious why American citizens question taxing and tax paying practices. Most might not think about such things as the cultures we grow up in provide us with subtle clues to our habits which we become accustomed through age and socialization agents and we regard habits and behavior as the norm. Now, I am a foreigner so I had to learn the culture in order to understand the reasoning behind the dismay of paying taxes. In Colonial times of the American history, American citizens asked The British Empire to have their opinions voiced, their rights represented, their needs taken into the equation back at home to be considered during policy making. When Britain refused to do so, American citizens revolted against Britain. The struggle to independence stemmed and some scholars argue this was the only point in which all Colonials agreed on. “No Representation, No Taxation”. Colonists refused to be taxed without being represented and rebelled against the regime of Britain then. Furthermore, I believe, as another brilliant author has stated that we are not getting much for our money in return. This too is very applause and true. I, for one like paying my taxes. I like knowing that if I was wrongly done, the government would investigate. I however, never think the government is efficiently spending the money they collect from the mass.


After declaration of Independence, States enjoyed small, relatively no taxing periods of time. However, the new formed Republic suffered blows and trials of endurance. Stability and authority were questioned and problems occurred in adaptation and assimilation. Taxing became mandatory, required and imminent in order to the have government settled into Federalism. Security is a need all governments must enforce to their citizens if they want to be in power. Security enforced legitimacy and authority, with a bonus of stability which is treasured greatly by most collective groups. Security understanding and concept changes from culture to culture, government to government. However, all functioning ( I underline functioning) governments enable a feeling of security for their citizens. When such concepts as unity, security, authority, sovereignty and legitimacy are not met in a government which are provided by security, the balance of power becomes corrupted and unstable, thus forcing inner and sometimes outsider factors to interfere. If you don't believe me, just check the headlines of any given newspaper in any given day's headlines. Money as you can foresee, plays a lot into politics. As the way economy progresses helps foster or undermines such feelings. These are just very broad terms and of course me goes into government than those just listed above. With attention to those though, you can see why taxation is a must in all governments. Taxation is inescapable unless you want to live in an anarchy, in which everything is basically a chaos.


Even today, due to the way this country was formed, most citizens still have cynical and critical views regarding taxation. Which, as I have stated is rather understandable. However, as American citizens, we are all taxed on a daily basis from food, to clothing, to shelter, to inheritance (have you checked out the percentage that government charges for inheritance transfer?) to he money you make for the job you hold: Income tax. And we pay taxes not only to our local county government, we pay to state government and to the federal government. When you add those percentages up, it's quite a bit of taxation. Here, we argue we don't get taxed. The sad thing is, most people would argue U.S., barely gets taxed. Incorrect. We are heavily taxed each year through our income and the products we consume. Annually, an American pays about thirty to forty percent of his money to government in taxes. When you think about that number, that's rather quite a large sum of money. But in return, the American government provides us with many necessary things, but not all. Many things, like free higher education, free health care, free many other things that the list can go on. ( I am not arguing for socialism, free health care or anything else. Calm down please.) We just don't get the most usage out of our money. As a regular Jane Doe here, I'd like to get the most mileage out of everything. Especially in these times of challenges. It is difficult to make ends meet. You are getting this money cut out of you. You might as well get the most out of it is my logic.


As an example; let's discuss Europe. Most of Europe has adopted a mixture of socialist-democratic governments which makes their citizens pay heavy taxes. England, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Austria to name a few of nations that does so. I underline here, they are not socialists. They live very democratically, more democratically than Americans according to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and United Nations data. They also have a very high standard of living. Europe tends to dominate standard of living in such charts, where as United States is lagging behind on thirtieth and as of late, much lower. These countries have adopted high individual rights laws, progressive thinking and free thinking methods. Especially Scandinavian countries pay very large percentages of taxation. In return, their governments take care of them. No Sweden pays for their education, health care, medicine, ever out of their pocket. That comes out of their taxes. Their life is already covered. Also, I'll give you an example to further demonstrate. Lets assume to have a Swedish family, living in Sweden in our hands to examine. A family of four. According to Swedish laws, a family of four must make X amount of dollars to comfortably live. If, that particular family of four is not making ends meet, the government will reimburse the remaining money to the family to comfortably cover their living needs and essentials. The government is releasing the money its collecting from that particular family of four. Again, according to Swedish laws, a family of four must live in an X ft. sq. house in order to accommodate a family of four. If the family cannot afford to, the government will help you to get one, through loans and subsidiaries. Graduates with a college and masters degree in Europe is higher than America in per capita. Such differences in governmental procedures makes these data results possible. There are also minimal, if at all any poverty, crime rate is much lower, and there are no homeless people wondering about the state. Also they're small compared to the size of United States of America. Sweden tends to be more homogeneous rather than the melting pot United States is. There are a number of differences that factor in making such great achievements possible. Taxation is one of them.


Now, that I've compared America and Europe at a very large, and grand scale with barely any specifics maybe as the reader you can see what tax paying money is supposed to grant you, as a citizen of a nation. Certain securities and essentials in which it would make the citizens lives easier on a day to day basis. All governments require taxation of their citizens. All humans across the globe pay taxes to their governments. We have been doing so for thousands of years. Here's a little bit of a history on tax. Taxation existed in Ottoman Empire, an Islamic government where taxation is a sin. But the rule still applied to non-Muslims. Taxation existed heavily in the Byzantine and Roman Empires, before and during Ottoman Empire. Taxation has existed in all history of Britain, German, Scandinavian and all Nordic Empires throughout the history, which has been around since the beginning of time. Taxing existed in all kingdoms of the Arabian peninsula, the Persian Empire (today's Republic of Iran), and all of Asian Empires. Surprising isn't it? Taxing, according to scholars existed even during Sumerians. Sumerians are thought of to be the first human non-nomadic culture to settle down. They settled in Mesopotamia, Iraq today. It is known as cradle of civilization. Sumerians' civilization thrived in the fertile delta created by Tigris and Euphrates rivers which enabled them to farm animals and grow crops year around. They also had the first irrigation system, which the rest of the world copied and expanded from. As one can see, taxing has been a part of our history, past, and selves since pretty much the birth of homo-sapiens. Even they have been taxed under their barely existing, if at all government.


As we can draw from this article, taxing and government go hand in hand for two purposes. For a government to smoothly and efficiently run, and also pay it's care givers. Secondly, most importantly to provide certain essentials and necessities to its citizens for taking their money, to return with services exclusively to their citizens. How much your government pays back to you in its services varies upon the country, ideology and practice it conforms itself to. Of course, among that list, there are certain traits that are special to each country due to their specific histories and mentality of it's people.


Comparatively it can be and is argued that our government does not do much. That is true too. With the money that it is collected from us all of us would like a little bit of extra service. I had about a hundred dollars cut from my pay check this week alone. It's not like I pay a thousand dollars a week. As a rule, the government tries to reach everywhere. It strives to, it however falls short each year. Generally most people believe that our money could be spent more efficiently, giving back more to its citizen in many ways. It should. That is the absolute truth. Like another great writer on booksie has mentioned, charity starts home. America has so many homeless, so many jobless, so many starving, so many unhealthy, so many living under poverty, so many uneducated citizens who are waiting to meet their needs by the government. I am not saying America should be cold hearted to what is going around the world. But as an American citizen and a citizen of the world it would be great to see America doing more favors for its own citizens than for any other citizens in the world. There are many reasons why our government spends large sums of money on other countries. Two words: International Politics. Status is everything. Spending money on other countries allows you to have influence over their government running and can possibly deter any upcoming threats. However that does not always work. Also, United States has a large canvas to paint each year to uphold its status as one of the World Powers (although that is swiftly changing) and an image to fulfill. It is hard to be America.


In summary taxing is something all humans across the board does and practices. Before, we argue against paying taxes, or dismay that we are paying for someone else's care actually that's quite not true. In essence, we're paying for services given to us, individually, taken from our own paychecks, to ensure certain services to us. The money you pay, is the services the government should and gives back to you. Not someone else, but you as an individual, as a citizen.


© Copyright 2019 NazireC. All rights reserved.

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