Many political figures, particularly conservatives and libertarians, have corrupted the American national debate on the governmental institution of taxes from one of specific scale, to a senseless referendum on their very moral and even legal right to existence.
Only a person ignorant of the United States Constitution would oppose taxes on legal grounds. To quote Article I, Section 8 (a section which should be memorized by all American defenders of a liberal philosophy):
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States… And To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
And Amendment XVI:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
To those conservatives questioning the existence of taxes on moral grounds, surely the specific presentation of these matters in the Constitution which you idolize is sufficient? If it isn’t, then you’re admitting that this document is not always just. You cannot both protest “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” and profess to agree fully with the Constitution.
If you do, in fact, oppose the institution of taxes on moral grounds, know this: taxes are the only way to guarantee the protection of rights for citizens. Protection of rights requires a government of some type. Not all governments protect rights, but rights cannot be protected without one. Only the sweeping power of law associated with a government, regardless of scale, can afford protection to citizens in such a way as to enthrone all human rights.
Governments, in turn, require taxes. Every government, conservative or liberal, democratic or monarchical, has a positive administration cost. In general, and specifically for a large-scale administration such as the United States Federal Government, this cost cannot be met by donations and contributions. Therefore, the administration revenue for the government must be generated by compulsory means, i.e. taxes.
The guarantee of rights for all humans is a primary moral imperative. Taxes may seem, and in fact be, morally unjust, but rights for all citizens of a particular government are a higher moral priority in any case. #