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One justification given for taxes is that they are the price we pay to live in a civilized society. Those in support of them claim that we have to pay our fair share. Why do people make the connection with civilization and somehow think it is a "price" that we must incur?

asked Oct 06 '10 at 04:27

Michael's gravatar image


edited Oct 12 '10 at 18:12

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Some economists' excuse for taxation is that it is the solution for payment for "public goods," where people would otherwise be free-riders not contributing a thing to their enjoyment of services that cannot practically be denied to them, such as access to roads or law enforcement or national defence. Without the latter two there is no viable civilisation.

Others have other motives, and don't doubt that some are disingenously referring to the above "public good" principle to quell dissent against their pet-project spending-sprees.

(Oct 06 '10 at 05:22) JJMcVey ♦ JJMcVey's gravatar image

At the heart of this statement is a belief in altruism. If each of us is responsible for the happiness of everyone else, then we are all morally obligated to support the "less fortunate," whomever that may be. And, since a great many people (rightly) do not want to sacrifice their own happiness for the unearned demands of others, the state has to step in and force the issue through taxation.

This statement is a collectivized version of "you are your brother's keeper." If an individual is not moral unless he cares for others more than himself, then a society is not moral -- or "civilized" -- unless it takes from those who have to give to those who have not. Hence, taxes are the price of such a society.

answered Oct 06 '10 at 06:48

stellavision's gravatar image

stellavision ♦

In a sense it's true. If you want to live in a civilized society, you have a moral obligation to help support a limited government (if you have the means). But this claim is made today in response to anyone who complains about the ungodly taxes that government takes from us, not in order to protect our rights, but in order to regulate us and redistribute our wealth. Today, taxes aren't the price we pay for living in a civilized society, but an increasingly uncivilized one.

answered Oct 12 '10 at 19:48

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Publius ♦

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Asked: Oct 06 '10 at 04:27

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Last updated: Oct 12 '10 at 19:48