January 22, 2009

Taxation For Dummies

The first saying on the quotes page of the IRS website is:
Tax is what we pay for a civilized society.

The New York Times editorialises ahead of today's Senate confirmation vote on Timothy Geithner, Obama's nominee for Treasury:

... the nominee admitted that his failure to pay tens of thousands of dollars in federal taxes had been “careless” but “unintentional” ...

We were not impressed with Mr. Geithner’s excuses for his tax problems, but barring any new damaging disclosures, we heard nothing disqualifying. He is clearly an intelligent man and Mr. Obama is entitled to pick his own team.

I was not impressed with the Times's blatant scofflaw scofflogic. There are 2 ways for Government to ask for my money:

1. Give us your money or we'll take it by force and you will get hurt. That is theft.

2. Give us your money, it's right to obey the law. That is citizenship.

Had Geithner a better record than accomplice in the present mess, it were still wrong to appoint an obvious, serial tax cheat to the job of tax chief. Maybe if he were pro-life that would disqualify him in the eyes of the New York Times as it seemed to disqualify otherwise unassailable appointments to The Supreme Court. It's not only the partisanship of the Times that grates, but also the stupidity. If I were a machiavellian President, I'd conserve colorable moral authority, especially in fiscal matters. Now noone need pay federal taxes because it's the right thing to do. You can't steal from a thief. How about a tax on hypocrisy?

The last quote on the IRS page is:
Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf.

Full disclosure: In this society I might cheat at tax were I sure I'd not be punished, partly because I'd be richer, but also because the authority to take my money depends on votes from people who pay little or no tax but receive subsidies. Their votes are bought with my money. However I'm not auditioning for Treasury Secretary. In fact I overpay tax since the effort of tax avoidance is outweighed by the disturbance to the intellectual tranquillity on which my speculator's lifestyle depends.