Holy T*x!

(Warning: This post contains language that might be offensive to some individuals. Parents might consider moving their children away from the computer to watch C-SPAN or PBS. We must be sure children are safe from unsafe t*xing). 

When did tax (sh*t, I mean t*x) become such a dirty word? A recent headline after the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare screamed that Romney called Obamacare a t*x on the campaign trail. I wan’t there, but I can imagine the campaign event crowd responding with boos and hisses, perhaps some mothers grabbed up their children, smothering their heads in shirts to prevent them from hearing the awful word.

I won’t get into the debate about the government’s t*xing authority or the t*x burden created by Obamacare. I refer the reader to FactCheck.org for a good summary of this issue; pay particular attention to the exemptions. http://factcheck.org/2012/06/how-much-is-the-obamacare-tax/

So how did we get to this point of calling t*xes out as evil, obscene, unAmerican? Certainly, it’s not new. T*xation without representation helped rally our ancestors to create an independent nation. Perhaps then the issue is that we don’t trust our faraway government to truly and accurately represent or act on our behalf using our money. When our money disappears into a black hole, why would any rational person appreciate the process of paying t*xes? Who is doing what with my money? Why is someone else deciding that my money should help pay for someone else’s healthcare? Someone else’s education? Someone else’s sidewalk? Park? Bridge? Clean air? Clean water? Safety? Medicine? Treatment?

If it is an issue of trust, what are we doing through our political rhetoric when we make the word “t*x” come off like an obscenity? To t*x is to punish; to t*x is to take away liberty and freedom; to t*x is to say we, government, do not trust you, citizen; to t*x is to ask you to give up.

What we if change our rhetoric? To t*x is to ask you to contribute, not to sacrifice. To t*x is to say we, government, appreciate you, citizen, for giving to the common good. To t*x is to help us live free and to help lift others up so they can enjoy the same freedom. To t*x is to promise future rewards through stronger communities.

We all need to change our approach: elected officials, public administrators, and citizens. I will look forward to the day when I receive a letter from the IRS; rather than open it with fear, as I now do, I will open with anticipation of the “thank you” note from the IRS commissioner. I will look forward to the day when citizens are torn at the end of the year between making last minute t*x deductible contributions to nonprofit organizations and just going ahead to file t*x returns, knowing that they may likely have to write an additional check to the IRS.

Pie in the sky? Idealistic? Yeah, probably. But if we care about the health of our government, the strength of our communities, and the sustainability of our society, we need a change in tone, rhetoric and culture. So bring your kids back in the room, and have them read out loud with you: TAX TAX TAX TAX TAX TAX.

Published by Prof. dr. Thomas Bryer

Dr. Thomas Bryer is professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida, Fulbright Scholar and Specialist, Professor at Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania) and Visiting Professor Edge Hill University (United Kingdom).

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