Cognitive Dissonance

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

'Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.'

Or in its frequently revised form,

"Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax that man behind the tree."

GOP NO!

This quote from the late Sen. Russell B. Long (D-LA) is essentially the mantra of anti-tax conservatives.

It must result in some serious cognitive dissonance, i.e., the uncomfortable feeling of tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. For example:

I want the best equipped and best trained policemen to protect me from "those other people" I unfortunately have to live with in this community;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want the best equipped and best trained firefighters and emergency medical technicians at the ready to save my property or save my life at a moment's notice;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want a court system that is staffed by highly trained professionals, and that is fast, efficient and renders justice;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want to be assured that the prison system will keep those "really bad people" behind bars and that they will never escape so they can never threaten me or my family;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want the best equipped and best trained teachers in my neighborhood public schools to provide my children with a top quality education;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want my children to attend a prestigious state university that will prepare them with a world class education which will enable them to compete and to be successful in an ever-changing global economy;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want to be certain that the water I drink is safe to drink, and the food I purchase is safe to eat;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want to drive on roads that are smooth ribbons of asphalt free of defects, and that the traffic lights will always be green for me so that I never have to wait in traffic;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want to enjoy recreation in the public parks, and the parks will always be clean and safe and accessible to me;

    But I don't want to pay taxes for it.

I want to have my cake and eat it too!

It is sometimes said that taxes are insurance against revolution. Actually, taxes are the membership fee to live in a civilized society with an orderly government. The alternative is chaos and anarchy.

7 responses to “Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Thane already pointed out that AzBlueMeanie has a view of the word “anarchy” which tends to skew from its commonly-used vernacular. I would also like to point out that Francine seems to have a skewed view of the word “we”:

    “As a community, there are some things we need to provide for communally – schools, roads – lots of other stuff. We do this by having something called a government and we ask that government to take care of these many needs by this incredible number of people.”

    If you truly do mean this, then those referenced by “we” should receive the benefits of what they’ve asked for, and they should be responsible for paying for them. I, and many others that I know, do not want government to take are of these things for us, and in turn do not believe we should be obligated to pay for them. If this was an opt-out system where those that did not want such benefits could decline both the benefits and the financial obligations of them, then libertarians would be on board.

    But here’s the problem. You, most likely, don’t think it should work that way. This is where your “we” falls apart.

    Thane actually has run for office, and I am currently running for office (I found your blog because someone accessed my site by referencing the link he posted to one of my articles). I’m in the process of writing a series of articles which describe how all of these “public goods” can be provided for without government or taxation. Five of the articles have been posted so far.

    Regarding the comments about Somalia; they have made leaps and bounds ever since their government fell 18 years ago. The apples-to-apples comparison is not to compare stateless Somalia with the US or some other country with a government, but rather to compare stateless Somalia vs. Somalia with government. Their success over the last decade (which didn’t start until the late 90s because the US and Ethiopia kept imposing on them) has been tremendous. They’ve gone from having a single commercial airplane to over 15 commercials airlines with 60 planes. Highspeed internet access has increased 43,000%. And you can get a land-line phone installed in three days (try getting Qwest to do that for you here). The best thing ever to happen to Somalia was the fall of their government.

    “No one political theory fits perfectly in this diverse society.”

    Bingo! Which is why libertarianism should be implemented, because it’s the only political philosophy that allows diversity. In a libertarian society, liberals can voluntarily associates and pass their policies amongst themselves, and conservatives can do the same. But in any other society, the will of the majority is forced upon the minority.

    As far as your comments about GOP ironies, I’m on-board with you.

  2. I intended the most common dictionary definition of anarchy: “a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority.” I am surprised that Thane did not seize upon the alternative dictionary definition of anarchy: “a utopian society made up of individuals who have no government and who enjoy complete freedom.” Hmmm, sounds like Thane’s libertarian utopia to me.

    “Anarchism” is defined as “a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesireable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.”

    Hmmm, sounds like the anti-government and anti-tax Republicans in our Legislature. Although many of these clowns do believe in governmental intervention in your sex life and relationships, and women’s reproductive freedom. This comes from the theocracy wing of the GOP, who have an entirely different and contrarian view to the utopian libertarians. These guys are all about government dictating the most intimate and private aspects of your personal life.

    No one political theory fits perfectly in this diverse society.

  3. Francine Shacter

    “Anarchism has an interesting history of anti-capitalism, anti-private property arguments that would send (american) libertarians into a tizzy.” Please tell me where “tizzy” is and how we can send some of these folks there – better there – better anywhere rather than here!

  4. Anarchism has an interesting history of anti-capitalism, anti-private property arguments that would send (american) libertarians into a tizzy.

  5. For those who really, really hate government and taxation, I hear Somalia is very nice this time of year. They haven’t had a functioning government in over 18 years and you’ll never have to pay any taxes. You can take a gun, or even a bazooka into any bar you want. The private police and justice systems are working very well against the pirates. Oh noooo! I guess I let the cat out of the bag. Every libertarian in the world will want to move there now. Book your reservations soon, Thane.

  6. Francine Shacter

    Let me try to answer you, Thane, very simply. We are a community of 300 million people. We are about 3,000 miles from ocean to ocean and I’m not real sure the land mass between Canada and Mexico. We have banded together as the United States of America. As a community, there are some things we need to provide for communally – schools, roads – lots of other stuff. We do this by having something called a government and we ask that government to take care of these many needs by this incredible number of people. That system is called taxation. Now, if you think you have some ideas how this could be done better, I suggest you put your ideas out there – maybe even run for office – and become part of the solution rather than be a carping noise who posts to blog sites. Y’know what I’m saying???

  7. This is an interesting post. I’d like to make some points that I think bring some additional cognitive dissonance to the concepts mentioned.

    I want the best equipped and best trained policemen to protect me from “those other people”;

    Just because they have equipment and training doesn’t mean that government police will help you out when you need it.

    And you want me to pay taxes for that? Really?

    I want the best equipped and best trained firefighters and emergency medical technicians at the ready to save my property or save my life at a moment’s notice;

    Forcing people to pay taxes which are then summarily turned over to the government fire department doesn’t provide a strong motivation for fire departments to protect homes or property.

    And you want me to pay taxes for that? Really?

    I want to be assured that the prison system will keep those “really bad people” behind bars and that they will never escape so they can never threaten me or my family;

    I don’t need criminals (real ones) to be caged, I just want to be reimbursed for my losses. Government incarceration is a joke. They make laws authorizing the building and operation of prisons staffed by government employees.

    And you want me to pay taxes for that? Really?

    I want the best equipped and best trained teachers in my neighborhood public schools to provide my children with a top quality education;

    Another government job program giving monopoly funding and coercive powers to government. Such alleged schools are poorly protected, full of government indoctrination and prone to poor results.

    And you want me to pay taxes for that? Really?

    I want my children to attend a prestigious state university that will prepare them with a world class education which will enable them to compete and to be successful in an ever-changing global economy;

    Holy-moly folks. Government prestige is a code word for stale and cancerous Taj Majals for government school workers and bureaucrats. I think I could do with three less state college presidents earning what? (Michael Coors current salary is $720,000 per year, a 25% increase from last year)

    And you want me to pay taxes for that? Really?

    I want to be certain that the water I drink is safe to drink, and the food I purchase is safe to eat;

    While there are some private water companies which on average seem to do as poor a job of providing safe water as government water departments, the idea that there should be competition in water provisioning is still valid. Monopolies for either private or public water businesses are a bad idea.

    I will skip the refrain on this one, water companies and water departments pay for themselves as far as most articles tell.

    I want to drive on roads that are smooth ribbons of asphalt free of defects, and that the traffic lights will always be green for me so that I never have to wait in traffic;

    I’ll add to this that I want my roads to be free of high wattage strobe lights.

    That isn’t the case in Arizona and yes, I don’t want to be forced to pay taxes for roads with strobe lights on them. Ask me the question again when the strobe lights have been taken down.

    I want to enjoy recreation in the public parks, and the parks will always be clean and safe and accessible to me;

    While I admit that I have never been to New York City I do hear and see plenty of references to a place called Central Park which while not entirely private is also not entirely public. Parks do not need to be owned or operated by the government. I have found private recreation areas to be far less noxious than public parks as public parks are prone to government edicts such as lawful users must disarm themselves.

    I’ll revisit this idea later after all the advocates victim disarmament have been voted out of office and then prosecuted. I can live with a few government parks so yes, I have better things to do with my time than objecting to government park ownership and operation.

    Actually, taxes are the membership fee to live in a civilized society with an orderly government. The alternative is chaos and anarchy.

    Neither taxes nor government is any kind of insurance against chaos. Africa is replete with taxes and government gone amok. Taxes do not naturally increase either civility but I am willing to admit that there are worse things than a little government if only people didn’t try to spring more and more and more government out of the beginnings of a little government.

    As for chaos and anarchy; as Inigo Montoya said: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    http://www.nickcoonsforcongress.com/blog/view.php?id=29

    And just to be clear here, I don’t object to rules that benefit all. I do object to rulers who rule for their own benefit.

    Anarchy means no rulers, not no rules

    http://www.simpleliberty.org/essays/what_is_liberty.htm