Taxes based on services

OK, there’s another taxation thread here but I don’t want to hijack it.

The other thread pointed out how many services we get in the good ol’ USA for our taxes. True enough, most of us do.

But what about those of us not living in metropolitan areas?

If anyone’s been paying attention you might know that I, Mrs Chance and the Chancling live in the Blue Ridge mountains. Government services are pretty thin on the ground out here. I list:

[li]Schools - Lil Chancling will have to go 6 miles to reach an elementary school. And more like 20 for Junior High and High School[/li][li]Water - Nope! Have to supply that myself.[/li][li]Police Protection - Haven’t seen a cop in years. No people = no crime, I can live with that.[/li][li]Fire Protection - The general store across the street burned to the ground Monday morning (what a way to wake up at 3AM!). Estimated time to get fire trucks there? 15 minutes. Nearest fire hydrant? 10 miles. Parts of store salvagable? Zero[/li][li]Armed forces - I take it on faith that they’ll protect Virginia on general principles.[/li][/ul]

So. Am I underserved by the taxes I pay? Should I pay less in county property taxes since I receive less?

Let the debate begin!

Sounds fair enough - but we will have to ask you to pay a tax fee at the border of civilisation.


This reminds me of the division between New Yorkers who live in the city itself and those who live upstate.

Ask soomeone from the city, and they will talk about how much revenue theyy gain for the state as a whole, how their tax rate is city-based only, and how the upstate people should kiss their ass for being there.

People upstate complain that they pay for Subways they will never take while the city foklks take all their water.

I am simplifying the many issues the two factions have, but in a nutshell, neither side has much of a right to complain IMHO, since they’re both right. They help each other and sometimes one side will rely more on the other, but that works both ways too.

Besides, this goes into the realm where you can say, “I don’t have any children, so I do not want my taxes to go towards public schools,” and that is patently ridiculous.

Yer pal,

Three months, one week, four days, 10 hours, 24 minutes and 17 seconds.
4097 cigarettes not smoked, saving $512.17.
Life saved: 2 weeks, 5 hours, 25 minutes.

Government services are just that: services. They are not a commodity, nor a utility, where you pay for what you use.

The argument that you put forth might just as well apply to city-dwellers. I did not need to call the police last year, so I shouldn’t pay the part of taxes that goes for the police? Ditto the fire department. Ditto the military – never once, last year, did I call upon the U.S. military to defend my property against invasion. So I should pay reduced taxes?

Nonsense. The whole point is that the entire community pays for some services that are provided to those in need of such services. That means some people pay more than their “fair” share (if by “fair” you mean utility-driven) and some pay less. That’s the imbalance we put up with by living in a society.

If you’d like, think of your taxes as going to help maintain the isolation that you (presumably) cherish.

Okay, you say that they’re not a commodity. But why not? What is it about serices sponsored by tax dollars that makes them different from any other services? Where do we draw the line between serices that maintain the community, and services that people just like?

Take, for a random example off the top of my head, car repair. It would make large portions of the population happy if the government began to provide repair work for their cars. Many would be willing (lets say) to accept a tax increase to have this done, provided that that increase is less than what they’re paying currently to maintain their car. And, since the burden would be spread over people who have cars and don’t have cars, supposedly it would be. And the people who didn’t have cars would complain about the unfair tax burden.

But we don’t do this. But we DO do this with schools, police, etc. So where’s the line?

Well, for one thing, when I walk into, say, a landscaping service, I am not met at the door by armed thugs who claim eminent domain over my home and demand to know how much money I make, taking from me what they believe is fair, and giving me in return what they believe I need (if anything).

I thought we’d hear from the Lib-man on this one.

The question does come down to, “should government services be treated as commodities?.” In colonial times fire services were a private commodity. Don’t pay the price…don’t get fire protection. Talk about incentive!

Heck, half the valley would probably rather protect themselves from prowlers than call the cops. Violent but cheap.

FTR I pay my property taxes pretty cheerfully. They’re cheap here in VA (not like MD). And school taxes are worth paying because so many of the people out here are so ignorant I’m willing to pay to give their kids a chance.

That said I’m still probably sending the Chancling to a private academy when she’s old enough.

I am from Rochester NY Satan, and can truthfully state that the city was a huge anchor around the neck of Upstate. Massive amounts of tax from the rest of the state wa funneled to the New yorkers for cheap transportation and subsidized housing.

Another inequity you have not considered Chance, is that the cost of living changes a lot from place to place. For example, you may be able to live fine on $60k in the mountains. However, a person with your same life style in Manhattan has to make $120k. He is paying $44k to your $18k to have the exact same disposable income.

Fair? well, nothing in life has proven to be fair yet.

The difference between police, public schools, etc and car repair is that society as a whole benefits from police and schools and doesn’t from car repair (although it does somewhat from safety inspections).It’s true that people could “protect themselves from prowlers” rather than call the cops, but that’s not the only thing the police do. People would have difficulty solving successful crimes,recovering stolen property ,controlling crowds, directing traffic,gathering evidence for prosecution, etc. if it was in addition to a job,rather than being a job.Even if my kids don’t go to public school, society as a whole benefits from as many people as possible being educated, and along with public education goes compulsory education.

You could ,I suppose,set up a system where people pay voluntarily for some of these services, but there are other problems with that.Take for example, a volunteer fire department. People donate money to finance it.If they provide services to those who don’t pay, then there’s no reason for anyone to pay.If they don’t provide services to people who refuse to pay ( even at the time of the emergency),in at least certain situations, those who have paid don’t get the benefit and those who don’t pay do ( The houses on either side of me are only 3-4 feet away from my house. If they don’t put my neighbor’s fire out because he didn’t contribute, my house is likely to be damaged. If they put my fire out because I did pay, he will have benefited ( less or no damage to his house)

Society doesn’t benefit from your car being repaired.It does benefit from prohibiting you from driving an unsafe car,so I could see inspections being provided as a government service, but if you can’t drive your car because your it won’t start, that doesn’t affect society at all.

I actually just posted a response to this in the other thread the OP refers to. To summarize that response, IMO, taxes are not for services. Government should be a cost - you should get back less than you pay in.
Taxes should be in an amount appropriate to pay for the functions we, as a democratic society, decide our government should perform. Who actually benefits from those functions should be irrelevant to which functions we choose the government to perform.


chance, you forgot another huge service you get from the Gov’t- the right to post here, and write letters to the editor, and buy porn, and worhip at whatever church you want, etc, all without worry of those “jack-booted thugs” that Libertarian is always so worried about (but has never seen). This is provided by the armed services, and the Justice dept, etc. You don’t worry about terrorists, or invasions.

You know that you will be given an income and medical services in your Old age.

You use the roads, or if you don’t, your postman & delivery guys do, and the folks delivering food to your grocery.

And, most importantly, you have the right to live out there in the Blue ridge mountains, without a lot of services, or in downtown NYC, with lots of services. How much is that worth?

There are a few things, like parks, that can be paid for by user fees, but the rest can’t be. The majority of us want those things, and we have approved our representative to spend our tax dollars on those things.

Libertarian,or a libertarian, would you please explain how your “perfect libertarian gov’t” would actually work? How it would never have “jack booted thugs” collecting…er or, as you so nicely put it “stealing” taxes? Rather than just snipe at our current, imperfect system, please show us your “perfect” system.

The government levying taxes to quarantee that government agents won’t come in and rough us up sounds a lot like the “protection” rackets you see on *The Rockford Files{/i]. “If youse don’t come up with your payment, Vinnie is gonna send a coupla boys down here ta pay yuz a visit.”

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the fact that a great many of the taxes you pay are local (city, county). While you certainly pay federal and state taxes these aren’t the whole picture.

In Illinois, at least, schools are funded via property taxes. The good point, if you want excellent schools for your kids you can choose to live in areas with high property values/high property taxes. You get what you pay for. The downside, if you’re poor and have little choice in where you live then you’re stuck sending your kids to crappy/unsafe schools.

Also, I’m not sure if state/federal funds are used at all for local police and fire prevention. I thought those came out of the city’s taxes as well.

While I’m certain that Chicago collects some money from the state and feds (highway maintenance for example) I’d wager Chicago provides more money than it consumes in federal/state taxes. Of course, Chicago is doing relatively well financially. I could see this equation turning around for cities approaching bankruptcy (i.e. Washington D.C.).