Mikkel Høgh

Coding the web since 1999

08 Aug 2013

On Gratitude and Taxes

One of the most damaging ideas of recent history is the idea that taxes are about paying your debt to society.

Originally, taxes was for services rendered. You paid taxes to the king, and he in turn protected you from enemies and enforced law and order. At least, that was the idea.

However, socialism has introduced the idea of taxes being something you owe society by your very existence. At first glimpse, this sounds reasonable. But as we have seen since, it has given rise to the idea that once you have paid your taxes, your debt is settled, and you don’t have any moral obligation to your fellow citizens.

As soon as you start codifying what you should give back to society, you’re not just setting up a minimum. You are also setting a threshold for how soon you can justify being uncaring to the rest of the world. “I’ve paid my taxes” has become one of the most popular excuses for lazy selfishness.

In truth, there’s no amount of taxes we can pay to offset the advantages that thousands of years of civilization built by our forebears.

We should rightfully be ever grateful for the comforts our modern society, and thus resolve to do what most of our ancestors have – leaving the world around us in a little bit better condition that we received it in.

This needs not be a selfless pursuit. It does not necessarily mean charity. It could just be doing your best in your career, being friendly to your neighbors and raising your kids well.

I think the key is to remember to be grateful. To stop and wonder at the amazingly complex machinery of society that we benefit from every day.

Remember that without the garbage man, the farmer, the factory worker, your daily life would be immensely less comfortable.

Remember that your taxes (depending on where you live) only covers the current government expenses. The thousands of years of progressive civilization, you got for free.