Progressives Can’t Bring Themselves to Resist the Government

At The Nation, editor Katrina vanden Heuvel spills lukewarm praise on Code Pink’s war tax resistance campaign.

She’s caught, as many progressive government-lovers are, by the conflict between their admiration for a large, expensive, coercive State in the abstract, but their dislike for its actual incarnation in Washington.

The social democrat in me has always been uncomfortable with tax resistance, despite my admiration for the War Resisters League. As progressives, we want to enlarge the public sphere, and elevate the primacy of politics, engaged in collectively, as the means for solving social problems. Taxes are obviously a crucial element of meeting our common goals. In that respect, opting out of the collective decision making of the polity about how to spend the nation’s money is problematic.

Arguments that some policy or other will “enlarge the public sphere” fire the same neurons in my brain as get triggered when I hear about how some new household gadget will “transform the way you think about your kitchen” or “give you a whole new you!”

And as for elevating the primacy of politics — in this season of political primaries, is there anything that could sound less appealing?

But somebody, I suppose, has to mistake this carnival of grotesques for collective engagement in “the means for solving social problems.” If nobody really believed this falderol then any naïve child might wander in and point out with a laugh that the Collective is naked — and then who would subscribe to The Nation?

Indeed taxes are obviously a crucial element of meeting our common goals, should those goals include a massive bureaucracy that imprisons Americans in vast numbers, exports mass murder around the globe, and threatens everyone everywhere with incineration if they don’t get with the program of the bloodthirsty psychopaths that rise like scum to the top of the public sphere.

How problematic it would be to opt out of funding such common goals as these!

Most Americans who file their income tax returns get a refund — more than $2,000 each on average. Some families even come to rely on this refund as though it were some sort of “year-end bonus” or forced savings plan.

But when you think about it, it’s a sort of investment: you’re taking part of your paycheck each month and investing it in the government — and you’re getting a 0% return on your investment! It’s an interest-free loan to Congress, and you don’t even get a “Thank You” card!

You can do better than an investment that’s a guaranteed loser and that supports Pentagon priorities and political pork.

Not only that, but the IRS is warning that it will probably be sending out refunds late this year because Congress and the White House still haven’t agreed on what the tax law is going to be.

Spread the word that tax refunds are a sucker’s game. Adjust your withholding now so you don’t end up with a refund . NWTRCC has a good guide on how to adjust your withholding available for free on-line.