Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lower Taxes? Let's Have NO Taxes!

With Election Day done and the victories of a new crop of mostly Republicans, we're being treated to a number of speeches about how this is a mandate that the American people don't want "big government," that they want government spending reduced and taxes cut. I would disagree. The only part of it that people really want is lower taxes. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would be unhappy about paying less tax.

So, how about paying no taxes? Let's see a slate of candidates next year who promise to reduce taxes to 0% across the board. And they'll cut government spending to zero as well. That means the government will be made up of volunteers, since none of them will be receiving a salary. Aren't most of them millionaires anyway? Why do they even need a salary? And for those who aren't independently wealthy, not a problem; all these candidates seem to drum up contributions to run their campaigns, so they should be able to get their constituents to kick in a few bucks each towards their well-being.

Okay, so now we have all our leaders working for free. But we're no longer spending any money, so all the support people -- assistants, maintenance people, technicians, drivers, etc. -- will either have to also work for free or seek other employment. Not that they would have much to do, anyway. The government will no longer be paying for electricity, water or HVAC, so the offices won't be very hospitable. There also won't be any expenditures for office supplies, postage, printing and copying, or internet connections.

Well, who cares? The government doesn't actually do anything anyway.

With government spending ended, let's see what else will happen...

Our military forces around the globe had better make do with what they have. There will be no more fuel purchases for planes, ships, trucks, jeeps, etc.; when the tanks run dry, those things are staying wherever they stop. Those men and women in war zones would do well to ration bullets because there won't be any more coming. Oh, and they'd better start figuring out how they're going to get home.

Senior citizens, you've seen your last Social Security check. Not that there would be any way to get them to you, since there's no one paying the postage. And you better get used to paying full price for medical treatments because Medicare isn't going to be around to subsidize them. Forget about the new government health coverage plan, the old government health coverage plan, and any other government health coverage plan. Gone, gone and gone.

All the traffic lights and street lights will be turned off because no one is paying that electric bill. Unless someone volunteers to direct traffic, expect perpetual gridlock; it is unlikely that members of the police department will work for free. And that's scary since the prisons will have to be closed and everyone in them will have to be set free. (Or, I suppose, we could just leave them locked in there to rot; they're criminals, after all.)

But wait, there won't be any more criminals. The court system will also be shut down because no one is paying for it. No judges (unless they want to work for free like other elected officials), no district or state's attorneys, no public defenders, no trials... so no one will be found guilty of a crime.

Got kids in school? Not any more! There's no tax money to keep the schools open so your kids will be home every day. That's okay, right? With the money you're saving by not paying taxes, you can hire a babysitter. Or maybe even a now-unemployed teacher to tutor them.
Don't think about leaving them home unattended, though. They might play with matches or leave the stove on. If the house catches fire, alas, odds are there won't be anyone coming to put it out.

There will be good news for the unemployed, however. Even though you won't be able to collect unemployment checks any more, with the cuts in government spending there will be no one enforcing the Minimum Wage laws. That means employers can pay you whatever they want, cutting wages to lower than those paid in foreign countries and bringing back all those jobs that have been outsourced. Lower pay, sure, but you won't have to pay any taxes on it!
Oh, by the way, you had better be careful on the job because there will also be no one enforcing any OSHA safety regulations and no one will be paying disability if you get hurt.

Finally, there is the government debt. Thirteen trillion dollars ($13,000,000,000,000) worth. When we stop paying taxes, there will be no money to pay the interest on it let alone pay it down. What happens if you stop making payments? The holders of your debt foreclose; they take your property. Since China holds quite a bit of our debt, maybe they will accept Hawaii as a settlement. Or California. Or both.


Is what I'm proposing ridiculous? Of course it is. We can't do away with government and the costs of everything our taxes pay for without throwing the entire nation (and the world) into utter chaos.

There are plenty of our tax dollars being spent on things we might think are wasteful, but it all got approved because our elected officials make bargains in order to get things done. A highway in South Carolina is voted for so that six park rangers can be hired to watch for fires in Montana and safety laws are enforced on a job site in Vermont. Same thing on a smaller scale in your home state, your county, your town.

Everybody needs things, everybody wants things, and, ultimately, everybody should have to pay for them. Period.


  1. An entertaining column, but unpersuasive. Most conservative voters are opposed to an overspending and micromanaging federal government, so you set up and knock down a straw man who's opposed to all spending and all government. I'm amused, but not moved.

  2. Hang on... give up Hawaii and California...?

    If we throw in Arizona, I'm definitely interested!


    I remain,
    Eric L. Sofer
    The Bad Clown...

  3. Everybody wants everything...nobody wants to pay for anything. They never grew up to take responsibility for themselves.

    Here's a rminder for all you complainers out there: The deadline for compaints was yesterday.


  4. You don't want to get me started on this one. I'm one of those radical libertarians, an anarcho-capitalist. Of course everybody should pay for what they want and need. The question is whether or not paying a government to provide those services is really the best way to handle it. Should everybody have to pay for everybody else's services, or just for the ones they use? People may grumble about taxes, but they don't usually try to imagine how services, just as roads, can be provided privately. As for the chaos part, I'm not suggesting doing away with government overnight. Even if I wanted to, it's not going to happen. Rather a gradual reduction of government over time will give people time to adjust and cover services privately.