With the loyally pro-choice Democratic party in the political driver’s seat, pro-life Americans are feeling more hopeless than usual about getting a chance to turn their moral beliefs into legal dictates. And they’re feeling frustrated at the likelihood that the government will take their tax dollars to spend on practices that they abhor, forcing them into complicity with what they consider evil.
And so I haven’t been surprised to see talk of tax resistance murmuring up from quarters where such murmurs haven’t been heard in years. And even where tax resistance isn’t explicitly mentioned or consciously considered, there seems to be an unconscious current sending the suddenly unmoored in the direction of that rocky isle.
Exhibit A is today’s Ross Douthat column. It’s an argument for tax resistance that doesn’t seem to be conscious of it. This, even though it’s titled “My Tax Dollars At Work.”
Douthat is defending critics of government funding of Planned Parenthood against those who say that Planned Parenthood’s abortion-related services are only a portion of the work that it does, and that over all even people who are against abortion ought to applaud the group for the good it does in, for instance, preventing abortions through sex education and contraceptive availability.
Douthat first demonstrates that providing abortion-related services is a bigger part of Planned Parenthood’s mission than a casual reading of some of the numbers might suggest. But then he lets loose with this pithy bit:
The phenomenon of an institution that does good with one hand and evil with another is a familiar one in human history — even Hezbollah does a lot of impressive humanitarian work, I believe — and it does not by any means follow that those who oppose the evil are morally obligated to support the institution anyway just because it does other, less morally problematic things besides.
I couldn’t agree more! Isn’t this often the first knee-jerk criticism of tax resistance we hear? What about all the good things that government does — those nice roads we drive on, and the fire department, and social security, and freedom, and truth, and beauty, and a mother’s love? Shouldn’t we feel grateful for paying taxes after all that?