Taxpayer Complicity

Ben Metcalf’s Harper’s article, “Why I pay my taxes,” is finally on-line.

The smug, ironic distance of the standard Harper’sian voice may seem a poor match for such ridiculously earnest Picket Line concerns as taxpayer complicity, but Metcalf makes a good go of it.

It’s probably made many liberal taxpayers feel a twinge of guilt . If you know any, send ’em the link.

Speaking of my interest in taxpayer complicity, Roderick T. Long has recently presented a paper called “On Making Small Contributions to Evil” that covers similar ground.

The paper touches on taxpayer complicity, but as an example of a larger group of actions in which a large group of people collectively contribute to some evil, but there is an argument as to whether any individual contribution can itself be considered evil.

For example, if global warming is going to kill us all (just assume this for the purpose of the argument why don’t you), and internal combustion engines are driving global warming (that too), then anyone who drives a car is contributing to killing us all, but no one person deciding not to drive is going to stop global warming, so can you really attach blame to any particular driver — or, can you be justified in using force to prevent someone from driving?

A couple of short bits:

  • Laura Baran took the plunge and decided not to pay her federal income taxes. On her blog, she shares the letter she sent in place of her payment. “I’ve been thinking about doing this since I read Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience several years ago. I held back out of fear. I’ve been reading about the history of war tax resistance. Inspiring stuff. Found a lot that helped me to finally do what I know in my heart makes me feel good.”
  • Randal Bentz has a thing or two to say to the city of Berkeley regarding the unwelcome mat it’s put out for U.S. Marine Corps recruiters. Not your typical critic, Bentz believes that Berkeley has taken only a timid first step and has a ways to go still — as Thoreau noted so long ago, it’s easy for taxpayers to applaud those who resist fighting in the wars the taxpayers continue to pay for.