Why are American citizens and politicians so allergic to taxation?What is the reason that America is so averse to the concept of Tax and Spend? The current taxation system seems to be heavily...

Why are American citizens and politicians so allergic to taxation?

What is the reason that America is so averse to the concept of Tax and Spend? The current taxation system seems to be heavily weighted in favor of the super-rich (who, maybe, do not particularly benefit from the further acquisition of even-more wealth). But it seems to be a mantra engrained in the American soul, be they rich or poor, that tax is always a very bad thing. Why?

With the nation's debt at $14,000,000,000,000, would taxation be one of the methods to address this problem?

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that to some degree, this is the myth of rugged individualism taken to a ridiculous extreme, along with the Puritan work ethic, which suggested that people who were poor deserved to be poor because they just weren't working hard enough and consequently, did not deserve God's favor, both of which seem to have resulted in a form of economic and social Darwinism, not exactly what Darwin had in mind when he posited the survival of the fittest.

The hypocrisy of it all infuriates me.  Corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks appears to be fine, while the rest of us pay for this.  Then there are the people who think that the only entitlements there should be taxes for are the entitlements they receive.  All other entitlements are completely unworthy.

I was reading today that a plan had been proposed to charge wealthy Medicare recipients a bit more money for either their coverage or their co-pays.  Apparently that is a plan that will never make it off the drawing board.  I have also read that if we all paid just a little bit more for Social Security and we all paid on every dollar we earned,  there would be no difficulty in maintaining Social Security.  It doesn't look like that is going to happen any time soon. The Republicans in my state, all those "No new taxes" people, have just raised some fees for drivers' licences and a few other services.  And of course, with the decimation of unions, people are not only not able to bargain for more money to pay for all these "non-taxes," but also are frequently forced to take pay cuts.

I could go on for hours about this. Thanks for a great writing prompt!

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's another example of the "not in my backyard" syndrome. We all expect that the government will provide certain services - police, fire, water, highways, public schools, libraries, etc. - but the perception is that we are not willing to have our taxes increased in order to pay for these services. I read recently that research shows that most people interviewed said they were willing to pay more taxes in order to avoid cuts in human services programs - think protective services for abused/battered persons, home care services for dependent adults, child support programs. But, as mentioned in post #4, the "no new taxes" politicians have adopted a stand that absolutely refuses to consider any increases in funding for any purpose whatsoever, and they are proving to be effective enough at getting publicity to make this stand sound reasonable and are swaying voters to go along with them.

Is there waste in government spending? Absolutely! Is there a need to reexamine how money is being spent and to find better ways of monitoring expenditures going forward? Absolutely! Is there a need to prohibit any new spending on all programs? In my opinion, no. Is someone out there able to explain to the politicians and the public that we need to supervise spending but can't continue to automatically cut ALL services even more drastically? That is the big question!

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the best intention in my heart, the true opinion that I hold is that we are not as allergic to it as we are literally sick and tired of the injustices that are committed when the government makes it their priority to decide how much of my hard-earned money they plan to keep for themselves.

I understand the need for taxation: Goods and services are not free, and there has to be a source from which we can fund major services for the entire community. However, when my taxes get raised in order to help fund for something I do not support, my patience reaches a very hard-to-reach limit.

An example of this are the famous bailouts. Nobody has the right to use my hard earned money to pay for something I do not agree with. Yet, it happens. It will continue to happen. Nobody can control it. So, in my opinion, I think that mainly that is where the so-called "allergy to taxation" may come from.



larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There seems to be some ill-gotten notion that taxes are evil. Everyone sees the pain of taxation but overlook the benefits. Bullgatortail makes an excellent point that the super rich often pay less than those of us who actually labor for a living. They rely on the working man to complain about his taxes and then reap the benefits. This is perhaps a problem with our capitalist system that needs to be addressed in some fashion.

Somewhere along the way, taxes became a dirty word, although they are definitely a necessity. Until we can educate the public on the necessity--and benefits--of taxes, we will suffer through the hypocrisy of the politicians who proclaim "No new taxes."

Frizzyperm, if you will forgive the tongue in cheek analogy, (which I hope you will appreciate) it's like saying Everybody wants to go to heaven;but nobody wants to die.


wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think it has to do with the idea that we work hard for our money and should be able to keep it. Of course, we need some taxes. Without them, the country couldn't function. I think it's just an engrained idea that we should get to say what happens to the money we have worked for. Unfortunately, the super rich tend to be the ones who get more tax breaks, even though they aren't the ones who need it. The way our legal system is set up tends to favor the rich. They can afford to lobby and call attention to their cause. Historically, Amercian's have never been fond of the idea of taxation. I think that is probably part of the foundation for the aversion to taxes. Hopefully, someday the tax burden will be more balanced and we will be able to pay off the national debt, but I won't count on that being any time soon.
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Speamerfam is right about the whole rugged individualism thing.  I also think that it is tied up with our ideas of American exceptionalism.  We are so interested in being different from Europe that I think that we reject higher taxes (and the welfare state) in part just because they are what the Europeans do.  So, since we are hyper-individualistic (at least in our minds) and because we are so bent on being non-European, we reject taxes and (again, mostly in our minds) big government.

I also think there's a historical element to it.  After all, we were founded by people who didn't want to pay taxes and income taxes weren't even constitutional until about 100 years ago.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is my observation that people don't mind being taxed, but they hate the waste and the pork-belly projects that the money goes towards.  As a poster stated above, people don't mind tax money going to the entitlements they receive, and I agree with that (for good and for bad), but when I hear that we are spending millions to save a frog in California at the expense to working people I want to explode.  When I look around at the waste in even local government coming for my hard earned money, I do raise my voice against it.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Several years ago (before our national debt multiplied so drastically), one politician proposed that if every American citizen paid a flat, one-time 15% income tax, our entire debt would be erased. Sounds logical, doesn't it? But guess who complained the most vehemently? The super-rich, of course. Until this situation--where America's richest citizens and largest corporations get the biggest tax breaks--is remedied, the little man in America will continue to complain about his own taxes being raised.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Could it be that the middle class is just a bit weary of supporting the nation?  While others such as the super-wealthy who have numerous tax loopholes and write-offs, etc. pay little to no tax. there is also an underbelly of those who exploit the welfare system. In addition, much of the tax money is wasted.  Remember ACORN, for instance?  Not to mention all the money sent to third-world countries that never reached those who needed it.