[I]f the anti-tax crowd continues to influence the unwitting and uninformed by appealing to emotional distaste for taxation, it might persuade the entire nation to eliminate all taxes and user fees.
What must be understood is that we would then be living in a country with no national defense, no police protection, no fire fighting services, no snow removal, no trash pick-up, no airspace allocation for airliners, no food, housing, or medical care for the folks who have lost jobs because of corporate greed and corruption, no prescription drug approval, no highway maintenance, no national or state parks or recreation areas, and all other sorts of inadequacies.
What we would have is a large-scale version of those youngsters rioting in center city Philadelphia, except that the rioters would not simply be expending excess energy because they have nothing better to do. They would be fighting for survival. The price that would be paid would far exceed the inconveniences of taxes and user fees.
I understand that Professor Maule is making a point here about the necessity of government (and, therefore, of taxes), but there are ideologues out there who try in earnest to create in the minds of Americans the idea that those who oppose high taxes and favor the private sector over the public sector are somehow opposed to any government.
Obviously, the fact that a man is opposed to high or increased taxes, does not mean that he is opposed to the concept of taxes. Nor does it mean that he believes governments should not exist.
Many anti-taxers are guilty of similar all-or-nothing thinking. They regularly accuse those who favor higher taxes of wanting to eliminate the private sector and destroy capitalism.
Both side’s arguments are logically unsound and designed merely to frighten people by demonizing the opposition.
I concede that it is a Bob Beamon-like conclusionary leap to conclude that those on the left who favor a greater government role in our lives are Marxists seeking the nationalization of all means of production. But it is a leap of similar distance for liberals to conclude that those on the right who favor less government are anarchists seeking the abolition of all government.
As with most questions, the debate about the role of the federal government and the proper rate of taxation is one of degree not of kind. Everyone but Sacco and Vanzetti believes we need some government. After all, the constitution requires it. And believing that, one must by logical extension believe that we need some sort of taxation.
If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we are all socialists. We all believe that there should be at least some communal pooling of resources to achieve certain national aims that cannot or should not be left to the private sector. Professor Maule identifies several of these: national defense, police protection, fire-fighting services, etc.
In the end, then, the debate is not about whether we should have government, but rather, how much government we should have.