Taxes Are Not the Devil

Okay, I get it. In today’s conservative climate, the title is not a popular thing to say. Taxes have in many libertarian and conservative circles become synonymous with tyranny. We tend to think of taxation as confiscation at the point of a gun. In some cases, I agree: the penalty — er, tax — er, penalty, er.. umm, tax? — for not gambling on whether or not you’d ever use a doctor (buying health insurance), simply because you didn’t happen to be aborted in the womb and have survived thus far is an atrocious invasion of the fundamental rights to property.

But are all taxes equal to this? I say no.

I understand there are anarcho-capitalist circles who make the argument that all representative taxations — i.e., our elected representatives determining the rate at which we pay the government for protective and proactive services — are necessarily tyrannous. No, I have never signed a tangible social contract agreeing to pay to Washington, DC, what someone else has determined for me, and I am but an infinitesimal percentage of the constituency in influencing the election of that “someone else.” I get it.

But taxes at the local level are, and of right ought to be, much different than the budgetary legislation that passes through the 535 representatives in the nation’s capital.

At the intrastate level, governors and legislators have a much better idea about the needs and capabilities of their constituents. For example, each delegate in Virginia’s House of Delegates represents, on average, just over 70,000 constituents, while federal congressional districts represent, on average, about 647,000. This means you, as a Virginian, are over NINE times more likely to have an influence on how your life, liberty, and property is represented at the state level than it is at the federal level.

This is important because the nature of taxation — if we agree with our founders’ principles — is not a nature of confiscation, but a nature of concession. We concede to our representatives a portion of our rights in order to secure the rest. Our liberty to run a stop sign on public roads is conceded so that we might not get pulverized by another who wishes to exercise that liberty. Our property is conceded to the maintenance and development of public commercial connectivity so that we might have easier and safer access to increase our means. We grant our property so that we may be free; we grant our liberty so that we may live; and we risk our lives for the preservation of this balance.

We needn’t conflate the polarization in Washington with the representative division in Virginia. We needn’t believe that our delegates and senators are so representationally distant from the wisdom of their districts, as we might think of our federal counterparts. We needn’t ascribe to Virginia Republicans the same derision of “establishment” simply because they see a pressing need for the preservation of our infrastructural means to increased liberty and property — even if that means a change in the method that preservation is accomplished.

We needn’t equate local taxation with local tyranny. This can best be demonstrated with a transpositional syllogism: All tyranny stems from taxation, but not all taxation leads to tyranny (else we must accept the United States would have been tyrants from their Independence).

We are still closely represented. Our property and our liberty at the local level is granted, it is not taken without our opportunity to speak. It would be a disservice to our reputation to argue that any form of tax increase, on principle alone, is necessarily a confiscation of our earnings.

When it comes to the needs of the Commonwealth, let us argue on the wisdom of how our property and liberty is represented, not perpetuate the fallacy that any increase in the delegation of our property equals the confiscation of our freedom.

Yes, this is about the transportation bill.

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