“Now you can have some government, we all need government,” the Kentucky senator said while discussing Thomas Paine and the role of government at the local public library. “Thomas Paine said that government is a necessary evil. What did he mean by that?”
Paul said he believes that “you have to give up some of your liberty to have government,” saying he was “for some government.”
“I’m for paying some taxes,” continued Paul. “But if we tax you at 100% then you’ve got zero percent liberty. If we tax you at 50% you are half slave, half free. I frankly would like to see you a little freer and a little more money remaining in your communities so you can create jobs. It’s a debate we need to have.”
Paul, who was discussing his recent tax proposal, described his plan to “leave more money in Iowa” and “send less money to Washington.”
“This past week I put forward a plan to have a simple flat tax, where everybody pays their fair share,” said Paul earlier in the speech. “Everybody pays, and you can fill it out on one page. Fourteen-and-a-half percent for personal income tax, fourteen-and-a-half percent for business tax.”
The problem here is the regressive taxation and implicitly accepting corporate personhood, obviously. It’s almost like corporations and the government enslave us, mostly because together have all the stuff!
Salon’s response is to call Rand Paul childish. “Paying taxes makes you a slave, says a grown man running for the most powerful office in the world.”
This is a dumb argument. And it’s upsetting to hear this dumb argument coming from someone who is trying to be president, but will go back to writing and approving legislation if/when that doesn’t work out. Taxation is not tantamount to slavery. The only thing that’s comparable to slavery is actual slavery. You might not like it that a portion of your paycheck is sent to the feds and your state government, and you may disagree with how your tax dollars are spent, but that is in no way comparable to being kept in bondage and having the fruits of your labor stolen from you.
The very adult Simon Maloy doesn’t see his paycheck as the fruit of his labor. A child can understand the concept of doing chores for an allowance, and someone using violence to demand part of their allowance. Tax withholding for “convenience” discourages people from thinking too much about the actual sums they’re giving up. Instead, they fill out forms and get a “refund.” You did real work to earn money, and you can be locked in a cage for not transferring some of those funds to someone else.
No, our lives don’t suck that bad, because the innate cruelty of capitalism is being restrained (and the restraints are loosening). Relative inequality is still important:
Most important has been the rapid accumulation of evidence confirming the psychosocial processes through which inequality gets under the skin. When we were writing, evidence of causality often relied on psychological experiments that showed how extraordinarily sensitive people are to being looked down on and regarded as inferior.
They demonstrated that social relationships, insecurities about social status and how others see us have powerful effects on stress, cognitive performance and the emotions. Almost absent were studies explicitly linking income inequality to these psychological states in whole societies. But new studies have now filled that gap. That inequality damages family life is shown by higher rates of child abuse, and increased status competition is likely to explain the higher rates of bullying confirmed in schools in more unequal countries.
We showed that mental illnesses are more prevalent in more unequal societies: this has now been confirmed by more specific studies of depression and schizophrenia, as well as by evidence that your income ranking is a better predictor of developing illness than your absolute income.
Strengthening community life is hampered by the difficulty of breaking the ice between people, but greater inequality amplifies the impression that some people are worth so much more than others, making us all more anxious about how we are seen and judged. Some are so overcome by lack of confidence that social contact becomes an ordeal. Others try instead to enhance self-presentation and how they appear to others. US data also show that narcissism increased in line with inequality. The economic effects of inequality have also gained more attention. Research has shown that greater inequality leads to shorter spells of economic expansion and more frequent and severe boom-and-bust cycles that make economies more vulnerable to crisis. The International Monetary Fund suggests that reducing inequality and bolstering longer-term economic growth may be “two sides of the same coin”. And development experts point out how inequality compromises poverty reduction.
Lastly, inequality is being taken up as an important environmental issue; because it drives status competition, it intensifies consumerism and adds to personal debt.
Taxation can be used to make inequality better or worse, if we’ve already accepted the necessity of government.
For the record, I hate Rand Paul.
It gets even worse when you remember that Rand Paul is trying to make inroads with black voters and repair his party’s abysmally bad reputation with African-Americans. Rand obviously understands at a certain level that slavery was a uniquely horrific crime, the memory of which still haunts our politics. After the shootings in Charleston last month, Paul called for the Confederate flag to be removed from grounds of the South Carolina Capitol because “to every African-American in the country it’s a symbolism of slavery to them and now it’s a symbol of murder to this young man.” Here we are, just a couple of weeks later, and he’s comparing the grotesque human rights violations represented by that flag to the banal act of filing your annual tax return.
Again, the banality of evil. Do the victims of American foreign policy consider it banal that we vote for these people and pay for these things?
I’ve previously written about the essentially correct objections that slaveholders had to free market capitalism. It’s just that slavery isn’t the only alternative to free market capitalism. Ad hominem is a difficult mental habit to break. Dismissing Rand Paul as a cartoon villain is like what we’ve been complaining white people do to us. The man is clearly an asshole. That doesn’t mean we should just take it for granted that the government is morally entitled to our taxes no matter what it does. If it’s not morally entitled to them, and it’s coercing us to pay regardless, what does that mean? What does it mean if that money is used to place other people into conditions that more literally resemble slavery?
This is what privilege is. It would appear that Simon Maloy doesn’t really feel “grown up” responsibility for what his tax money is spent on. To him it’s “banal,” but it actually kills real human beings in horrible ways. Giving our money to defense contractors is an important part of shooting missiles at the people coming to the aid of drone strike victims (“double tap”). It’s even more grotesque than Rand Paul’s point about taxes. It only appears that way if you really think about it, with your feelings and stuff. What’s it like to lie there bleeding to death and missing a limb, knowing everyone is afraid to help you because the Americans will shoot anyone “assisting terrorists”? All of our tax dollars contributed fractionally to that outcome. Nobody else’s. Calling it “banal” is PROFOUNDLY DEHUMANIZING.
Our society only works if people in other countries aren’t really people, so we can’t think of any examples of treating people badly. I Googled the guy (lol), and he’s devoted enormous amounts of time to refuting Rush Limbaugh. The challenge of American race relations is getting Simon Maloy to understand that he just topped Rand Paul in racism, without him acting too offended and defensive to listen to reason. How dare I compare him, good-intentioned Simon Maloy, to his arch-nemesis? I’m an asshole! I’m an extremist hurting the cause with hyperbole (no, really, sand niggers arne’t people)! I’m unreasonable for considering Hillary Clinton to be an insidious, racist bitch. I’ll hand victory to the anti-Christ if people joined me in never again voting for Democrats or Republicans (as befits a democratic republic).
Everyone unintentionally says fucked up things like that. Undoing the damage from our culture is a process.
The only thing I know about Simon Maloy is what’s in this article, so I have no idea how he’d actually react to this post. The more important point is that the reactions from a few sentences ago are plausible in the first place. People behave this way, whether or not he does. People identify themselves with political parties instead of ethical principles. It’s easier if you can’t accept that our society has democratic features and Fox News is racist because their viewers are racist. Even more unspeakable would be the suggestion that people get repressed enjoyment from watching Fox News. Maybe they laugh at some of the jokes. Maybe the worldview sinks in by osmosis. It sets the bounds of conversation.
Why is Simon Maloy listening to Rush Limbaugh all day instead, I don’t know, people outside the United States? The “liberal media” could focus on a lot of things, but they focus on feeling smug that they’re not Republicans. Somehow mean old racist white men command all the attention, and main concern is solidifying the tribal identifications of white people. It’s completely narcissistic!
Everyone else literally standing on the outside. “Hello, can you hear me?! Can we talk about how much you’re making it suck to be us? No? Still? Yeah, I guess Jon Stewart is pretty funny. Did you see that commercial? Haha [dies inside].”