you're not funding *that* with *my* taxes!

Damien Broderick (
Thu, 12 Nov 1998 17:52:50 +0000

I've always been rather taken aback by this wounded cry. Those who utter it seem unaware that in a pluralistic western society, a vast array of different and possibly antagonistic interests are supported out of consolidated revenues (tax, in brief) which are gathered from most of the working (or at any rate income-earning) population of different and possibly antagonistic people. As I understand it, my moiety or clan or meme-tribe notionally chips in for the things we especially fancy, as well as shouldering our share of the costs of the commonweal (roads, air traffic control, etc). Some other lot of morons who believe in homeopathy or creation science or Catholic education surely have a perfect right to expect that a chunk of what they pay will go to funding their preferred idiocy - as long as the rights of kids, say, are not (too irreparably) infringed.

This was a big issue in Australia, and maybe still is, when Catholics demanded that their sectarian schools be funded at the same level as state-provided schools. There were screams of outrage from the three-quarters of the population whose kids were not going to get the benefit of those schools. `*My* taxes are not going to support some damnable Papist brainwashing!' I have some sympathy for this dislike of Catholic (or Muslim, or other meme-cramping) schools, but I was dumbfounded that these angry taxpayers failed to see that they were, in effect, demanding that 25% of the population help fund *their* system, with no return to themselves.

Presumably libertarians will find all this a bit of a bore, since they will maintain that *no* central provision of education, health, etc, is justified. Still, given that state-funded education is common, I can't see any just way to avoid allowing groups to choose how to deploy the chunk of the education dollars they pay in. Similarly with pornography, abortions, writers grants :) etc. If enough people find these practices loathsome and detestable, let their consciences be assuaged by the knowledge that the share of the tax buck that's going to pay for the services is not coming from *their* contribution but from the tax paid in by the very many who disagree with them.

Sorry if this strikes many here as absurdly elementary. Still, it's a perspective that seems to elude many indignant taxpayers, and I have the feeling that if the matter were explained properly they might calm down. If they wish to prohibit the activities they dislike, let them try. If they fail, they need suffer no longer under the guilt that *their* dollars are being spent on the spawn of Satan (or the God of someone else's choice). The payments are being provided by *other* people's taxes, more or less, all things being equalised.

Damien Broderick