Who ate the post, the server or Pat?

Yesterday Mr. Crissman decided to insult taxpayers across the country on Dakota War College by declaring that "Paying Taxes Is NOT Patriotic." The post made so little sense that I got the impression Crissman was writing just to disagree with me, although he didn't manage to address any of my main points about Intern Kristi Noem's unpatriotic wimpering and facile manipulation of statistics.

The post started with self-destructive ad hominem, as Crissman forgot to look in the mirror and dismissed one of my sources as "a random blogger" who "seems to think." The post then seemed to advocate not paying any taxes for any of the vital services taxes pay for. It veered to machismo, suggesting you have be a solider to be a real patriot. The post then recovered with more thesis-deflating nonsense, declaring you could also be a patriot by working in a "private community garden." Gardening is patriotic, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what constitutes a "private community garden," or, more importantly, why growing food to feed your neighbors could be an expression of your love of country but paying money for police and soldiers to protect your neighbors is not.

One commenter quickly trumped all of us random bloggers by citing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." Hmm... maintaining society seems a reasonable expression of love for one's country.

Evidently the heat of the comments or the incoherence of the post was too much for whoever runs the show at DWC. By suppertime, the post had disappeared.

Now the War College has been experiencing technical difficulties this week, so the erasure of this post may be a mere technical glitch. But knowing the Republican blog's history of memory-holery, readers are duly suspicious. The Madville Times thus performs a public service by archiving that post (just as libraries store and share newspapers to keep track of our community history and preserve the fabric of public discourse). Update 08:35 CDT: Oh! And so does Bob!

Besides, next time I'm teaching speech or debate, I want a good example of bad argumentation handy for the freshmen to tear apart.

Paying Taxes Is NOT Patriotic

by Tyler Crissman, Dakota War College, 2011.04.21

Taxes were due on Monday, and yet again, the only things certain in life continue to be, death and taxes.

Liberals seem to think that paying taxes is somehow patriotic. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, VP Joe Biden said that it was patriotic for the wealthy to pay taxes, and Cory over at the Madville Times highlights an article in which a random blogger seems to think that paying taxes is patriotic as well; they seem to think that paying taxes is somehow essential to being able to continue to enjoy the quality of life that we do.

It's Tax Day again, and as usual, people across the country are complaining about paying their taxes. Taxes are portrayed as being restrictively high, as an outrageously heavy burden, as the government's stranglehold around our necks. But this is patently misleading and because we pay so little in taxes, we are being threatened with losing much that we hold dear.

and...

How many things in our lives are provided, through the government, by our tax dollars? Our roads and sewers, the mail, parks and recreation areas from National Parks down to city playgrounds, the police and fire departments, the 911 emergency system, schools from primary up to our public universities, the list goes on and on. Our taxes pay to ensure we have safe food to eat, pure water to drink and clean air to breath. They pay for the military, the state department and the FBI in order to keep us safe from threats both foreign and domestic. Just as importantly, our taxes help to provide a social safety net for each and every one of us. If we lose our jobs, if we become sick, when we retire, there will be at least some level of support for us if and when we can no longer support ourselves. This is what our taxes pay for. This is our responsibility for living in a first world country.

and...

To me it's simple: paying taxes is patriotic. Sure, no one likes to give their money away, but whoever said being patriotic should be easy? If we want to live in a great country, a safe and secure country, a country that takes care of it's people, educates them and keeps them healthy, then we all need to be willing to pay for it. It's our civic responsibility.

If you believe taxes are patriotic, I've got some ocean front property in western South Dakota I want to sell you.

The quality of life that we enjoy is not dependent on any taxes that we pay; private organizations and private citizens are extremely sufficient in being able to provide the services that we expect.

Don't believe me? We have prime examples of private toll roads, which in some instances have proven to be more effective than public roads; we have private examples of sewer systems too in the septic tank systems that exist across rural South Dakota. Numerous examples exist of private parks open to the public, and in a growing trend across the country, private parks and gardens are becoming more frequent. One of the prime reasons we have the National Park system in the form that we do today is because Yellowstone Park (the first true national park) was created as a national park because no resources existed at a state level to administer it (Yellowstone was created in 1872, while Wyoming achieved statehood in 1890). Even then, it took a combined effort between public and private interests to bring Yellowstone into existence.

Sure, there are vital functions that taxes pay for, and no one disputes that. As the author of the aforementioned blog post states, things like the military, the State Department, the FBI, police and fire department services and education services are vital government functions that our taxes pay for. However, those things are rightly expected to be provided by the government, they are called for in the Constitution and even predating that, were called for in the Articles of Confederation. Also, if we're going to continue to expect the "social safety net" that we have today, we must make real reforms to it, we can't bury our heads in the sand, otherwise, it won't be around for much longer.

Taxes are necessary for our Republic to survive, the Founders knew that, but paying taxes is hardly patriotic. Merriam-Webster defines patriotism as "love or devotion to one's country", and we can be "patriotic" without depending on the government to spend our tax dollars to provide services to our community. The quality of life that we enjoy is not dependent on the taxes we pay; we can have one without the other, and frequently do. If you want to see patriotism, look to the soldier serving in the National Guard, look to the person who is devoted to mentoring children, and look for the person who loves working in a private community garden.

That's a real devotion to your country, and your community.

"A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have...."