One of the most common attacks on progressive politicians in America made by the wealthy owning class of this society is that if those progressives are elected into office--especially the White House--they will end up raising taxes. Raising taxes is extremely unfair and an unnecessary burden on all the hard working people in this country, we are told by these wealthy elites (who certainly don't do any hard work themselves, since they hire thousands of workers to do it for them). It's an example of the government taking money out of our paychecks that is rightfully ours and not theirs. It's an example of "big government" that needs to be minimized or stopped altogether. In fact, many people of a right-wing slant in the working class will even argue that the taxation system is an example of our civil liberties being infringed upon. Hence, any person on the Left who argues with them about the tendency of the Right to be less than totally concerned about our civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, the right-wing folks will sometimes retort, "If you cared so much about freedom of choice, then why do you support politicians who agree to take money out of our paychecks against our will?"

However, it's not apt in any way to compare the taxation system with attacks on civil liberties under a capitalist system, where the industries and services are mostly privately owned and operated for profit rather than simply to serve the needs of everyone in society. I will attempt to explain why the system of taxation is so necessary in a capitalist society in this essay.

In a capitalist system, taxes are necessary to allow the government to afford certain essential services for its citizens, most of which directly benefit the working class and make their lives easier under capitalism. This includes paying for social services that working people often desperately need under the current system, such as:

1) Social Security for elderly people who are retired, and for legally disabled people who may not be able to work or whose ability to work is greatly limited;

2) unemployment insurance for those who lose their jobs, which happens very often under a system where a job is a privilege rather than a right;

3) funding for jobs based on public works so as to provide employment for workers during a time of severe recession or a full blown depression;

4) for providing medical insurance to poor people who desperately need it and couldn't afford to purchase it from private insurers (the latter of whom shouldn't exist even in a capitalist nation in the first place, but that is a whole other topic that I am not going to get into here...);

5) to enable the government to provide programs for people of very low income--such as food stamps--whose ability to feed themselves and/or their children would be far more difficult without them;

6) to provide certain essential services to citizens at cost, such as the availablity of water, which is even more vital to people's survival than food;

7) for needed social programs that provide a meager source of income for those who cannot find employment (whether such programs, such as welfare for the poor, end up "coddling" people and discourage their incentive to find a job as people on the Right often claim, is a whole other topic that I will gladly take on in a future essay...);

8) to fund the military (I am against the concept of the military as it currently exists in principle, and I am totally against how the military is most often used by all governments in the world, especially by 'super power' nations like the U.S. for things like foreign conquest and imperialistic purposes, and I agree our military is far too bloated; however, I understand that in a world order like the current one, where the citizens of the world are separated into hundreds of competing nation-states run by different ruling classes, there needs to be a way for each of these nation-states to defend themselves from unprovoked invasions by the armed forces of other nation-states if absolutely necessary, and I prefer the military being funded via taxes than privatizing it for reasons I will explain a bit later in this essay);

9) to provide law enforcement to a nation (you know I don't like the concept of the police as it currently exists, but I am not against having a security force to protect people from real harm if they are not able to protect themselves, though I disagree with how the police are often used by the state in many ways, though again, that is a whole other essay in the future);

10) providing essential services to society like sanitation/disposal of garbage (imagine the doctors trying to keep up with the major health crises that would arise if the sanitation workers weren't doing their jobs);

11) for providing some of the costs to public transporation, an essential service for people who do not own a vehicle for whatever reason;

12) to provide public education for children and adolescents who haven't yet graduated from their secondary education (I won't get into how much I dislike the present form that the education system takes for people of all ages, especially for those legally designated "minors," but that is once again something for another essay);

13) provides subsidized housing, which greatly reduces the number of poor people becoming homeless;

and many more things, too.

Of course, I believe that individuals should be taxed according to their income, with the rich paying the most and those of lower income paying the least. Such a thing is not "punishing success" but simply seeing to it that the wealthiest people in society contribute to the welfare of the less than affluent majority who does all the work for them and who are actually responsible for the smooth running of society's important industries and services. I believe that advocating for a completely equitable form of taxation is entirely justified and necessary, but fighting to completely end the system of taxation itself within the context of a capitalist society is a recipe for disaster that would have an extreme amount of negative effects on members of the working class. These negative effects would be empirically observable and constitute demonstrable harm that is entirely beyond the realm of abstract or subjective moralizing.

Americans are virtually unique in the Western world in complaining about the system of taxation itself (as opposed to justifiable complaints about the system being applied equitably), for the following reasons:

The wealthy owning class in America have successfully pushed the ideology that taxing people is unjust because they earned the money and hence all of it is rightly theirs and theirs alone, and the government has no inherent right to take it from them for any reason at all. Of course, this ideology only benefits the privileged elites in society, and they feel this way only because their great wealth means that they will not need any of the services that taxes pay for. Of course, these wealthy fatcats never object to corporate welfare, bail-out money provided via the taxpayers for banks and other capitalist institutions that go bankrupt, or a bloated military that forces the rest of the world to capitulate to their business interests.

Further, the wealthy would be utterly euphoric if the government stopped providing most of these services to the working class via taxation and privatized all of these services instead. In such a case, the capitalists could make a far bigger profit than ever before by forcing the working class to pay out of pocket for new forms of insurance, or for services that were once provided for them largely or entirely via taxes. Just imagine for a moment if law enforcement, the military, sanitation, water, and other essential services were all privatized, so that instead of the workers obtaining these needed services through taxes they instead had to pay out of pocket for them, or pay a few hundred dollars a month on privatized insurance policies to provide them with services such as law enforcement protection (much as members of the working class have to do for health care, which should IMO be entirely covered by the government via taxation). Now imagine if we were legally required to purchase at least some of these new forms of insurance. If these things happened, members of the working class would soon be divested of what meager amount of extra bucks they retained due to the fact that they were no longer having taxes taken from their paychecks, and far more in fact.

Without taxation under a capitalist system, near-total deregulation of all of these essential services would occur, and their privatization would create a variation of capitalism that would be far harsher on the working class than any that currently exists anywhere else in the "free" world. This would simultaneously give the handful of people who make up the owning class far more power and money than ever before, and the current already vast disparities of wealth between the wealthy and the non-wealthy would become far greater than ever before. It would correspondingly become even more difficult for the average worker to get ahead, because they would now have many more out of pocket expenses than they currently have.

Further, the handful of individuals who make up the owning class would then be controlling and operating the law enforcement agencies and the military directly, rather than indirectly through the state they subsidize and control via huge campaign contributions, as is the case today. As a result, the notorious ability of members of this class to get away with virtually any type of crime far more often than members of the labor class do would escalate to an entirely new level.

In addition, if this almost total privatization of all the industries and services was implemented in America (or in any other First World nation that purports to be a democracy) we would have to say goodbye to things like unemployement insurance, welfare for the poor, food stamps, Social Security (which would then become privatized), etc. Any member of the working class who was without a halfway decent job or unable to find employment for several months at a time or more, would have to depend entirely upon either the largesse of charities or relatives.

What's even worse, indispensible charitable organizations would be considerably less numerous in this laissez-faire variation of capitalism than they are in our current version. It's not too hard to understand why. You can rest assured there would be far less of these charities in a totally deregulated version of capitalism than those that exist under the current economic regime because without the existence of taxation there would be far less incentive for corporations to donate to them, as now they would have no taxes to write off anymore. And let's not forget that the opportunity to write off a great amount of their taxes is the main reason for the wealthy members of the owning class to donate heavily to charities in the first place. Just imagine having to rely entirely upon rich people's sense of altruism and nothing more for donations to charities.

There would, of course, be only one alternative outside of what few charities may exist in a near-totally deregulated capitalist system for low income people or even "middle class" people who lost a job and couldn't find another one for protracted lengths of time (and who thus exahausted their savings). This would be to rely upon the good graces of any relatives who could both afford to and be willing to provide a temporary home and financial assistance for family members who were so down on their luck, so to speak.

Hence, the lack of a system of taxation in a capitalist system would in no way, shape, or form benefit working class people. The propagation of this myth via the right-wing elements of society that currently have such a huge amount of sway in the government and the media has resulted in too many working class people who possess this frankly self-destructive ideology.

Both the capitalists and workers in other nations do not complain about the taxation system as much, because the owning classes over there generally accept the fact that if they want to preserve the continuation of a system that provides them with such power and privilege over the great majority of society, they have to provide social services to mitigate the worst of the problems their system creates on the working class. If they do not, they are aware that the system will become extremely unstable and the labor class will possibly rebel as a result.

The fact that the American working class alone in the Western world is kept passive and adopts so much of the capitalist classes' self-serving ideology tells us a lot about our level of ignorance compared to that of the working class folks in other Western nations (who are certainly far from enlightened on many issues too, so that is saying a lot!). There are two major reasons why the American workers are so easily convinced that the system of taxation is a bad thing, and these are both the result of how different the system of taxation is in the U.S. compared to its counterparts in the other Western quasi-democracies.

In the U.S., unlike other Western nations, the great bulk of taxpayers' money goes into the military (50 cents of every tax dollar spent). A good chunk of it also goes into corporate welfare that helps prop up big business and assists them in staying solvent even when they screw up royally and hurt everyone in society except for themselves--note the recent bail-out of the banks undertaken by the Obama administration on behalf of its allies on Wall Street. Because of this, the bulk of U.S. taxpayers' money is not spent on social programs that benefit the working class.

This is in marked contrast to the situation in other nations in the West, where the working class is given much via taxation, like universal health care (and thus never has to worry about either medical bills or hefty monthly payments for insurance, and also have very low, if any, need to pay for prescription drugs), a public transporation system that is far superior to any existing in America today that cuts down greatly on expenses relating to driving for people who live in these nations, an education system that is much superior to what exists here and which often partially funds higher education and helps students receive forgiveness for particularly high debts (thus insuring that college and graduate students in these other nations are generally in far less debt over higher education expenses than those living in America), and social programs that are much better funded than those over here, including things like extended maternity leave, a certain degree of paternity leave, better programs to help needy children, etc.

Granted, the governments in Europe and Canada periodically complain that they are spending too much on these programs and need to cut back on them whenever conservative politicians gain a foothold in government, but more often than not these things often go nowhere since the working class citizens of these other nations are far less passive and misled by ideology that only benefits the wealthy ruling class. This is quite different from their willfully misled counterparts in America. Since American workers get far less in return for the taxes they pay than do workers in these more liberalized systems of capitalism, it's much easier for the owning class here to convince workers that the system of taxation is a bad thing that hurts everyone than it is for their counterparts in the Western nations and Canada to convince the workers living there the same thing. Again, this is because the latter workers receive considerably more in exchange for their taxes than American workers do. As I noted above, this is the case because other national governments spend far less on a bloated military and corporate welfare and more on programs that directly benefit the workers. Further, and perhaps just as importantly, the workers in these other nations also do not look upon the wealthy as god-like figures that they are in awe of in the same sense as American workers often do. Most workers in these other nations realize they are never going to be wealthy. The American capitalists and their media convince the American workers that a wealthy, privileged lifestyle is theirs for the taking if they simply work hard enough and save enough money. The European and Canadian workers know better than to fall for the Horatio Alger-style myth of the "self-made millionaire" that is so inextricably a part of the American Dream. They know they have a better chance of being struck by lightening three times in their lifetime than ever actually gravitating to the ranks of the capitalist class. Hence, they let the capitalists know that if they want their system of power and privilege for the few to continue unobstructed, they need to make certain concessions with the workers who labor so hard to enable the wealthy to retain their opulant lifestyles. This is a concession that the capitalist class of those nations makes for the workers.

That is far different, of course, than the situation in America, where the workers are convinced that the capitalists generally came by their wealth via hard work, saving money, taking great risks and making huge sacrifices, and by considerable natural talent--as opposed to where most of them actually acquired it, via inheritance. Most of the greatest fortunes in America were made during the 'Gilded Age' of the 19th century in ways that were not exactly scrupulous, and with much assistance from the government. The great majority of today's capitalists grew up as trust fund babies, not as hard workers with great talent. The few who are truly "self-made" were far more lucky than they were talented, and made their fortunes during "boom" periods in the economy by taking advantage of new technologies. This wouldn't have occurred if they hadn't of been born in just the right decade for them to grew to young adulthood at just the right time in history (note the Internet "boom" of the late 1990s that has since run its course).

Of course, American capitalists and politicians, along with their media mouthpieces, often self-servingly denounce social programs for the working class as examples of "socialism," and too many members of the working class are bamboozled into thinking that any program tagged with such a label by the government and media moguls are a "bad" thing for everyone in the nation. What they actually are, of course, is an inconvenience for the wealthy. This is why so many American workers, especially (but not entirely) those who swing to the Right, parrot the rhetoric of the wealthy and argue to end or minimize the system of taxation rather than banding together and insisting that the U.S. government adopts a more fair system of taxation that is much closer to those found in Europe and Canada, and that the government starts spending much more tax money on programs that benefit the working class as opposed to spending such a huge amount of it on such a bloated military and for policies that benefit the rich in general.

Based upon what I described above, the system of taxation in a capitalist nation is necessary to provide essential services for the working class, who would be in far worse shape if most or all of these essential services became privatized instead. If the system of taxation wasn't in place and the workers were bereft of all the services and programs it provides for them, poverty and material deprivation would increase to unprecedented levels. If that occurred, this would cause a great amount of demonstrable harm to all members of the working class, as would privatizing law enforcement and the military in many ways far too numerous to mention (but I will likely do so in the future, in a different essay devoted entirely to that subject).

Since many of these social programs paid for by tax dollars are designed to directly benefit children, and it's well known that poverty is one of the single greatest causes of harm on children in any nation, the end of taxation, and the great increase in poverty and material deprivation that would occur as a result, harm to the children would perhaps be the most pernicious form that this demonstrable harm would take. In her seminal book Harmful to Minors, progressive journalist Judith Levine herself noted that, "Poverty doesn't simply cause child abuse, poverty is a form of child abuse." The entire last chapter of her book was devoted to describing the many ways that poverty hurts kids in this society and questions why so many people are less concerned about this than they are about stifling young people's natural sexuality or preventing them from looking at "inappropriate" images or words on the Internet, playing certain video games deemed "inappropriate" for them, etc. I urge everyone to read Levine's book, and pay especially great attention on that last chapter.

Thus, when you take into account everything I described above, the system of taxation is a necessary component of a capitalist system that is required to mitigate the many problems that such a system causes on the working class. It's therefore not in any way apt to compare the system of taxation with instances of the government interfering with and obstructing important civil liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom of association, freedom to read whatever you please, etc. Making this comparison is extremely silly and outright counterproductive to the interests of the working class in any given capitalist nation.