Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
Tyler Adams, in his January 11 letter to the editor, claims that some of us are unaware of how government operates. To imply that the citizens of the county don’t know where their tax dollars go is condescending. Of course there’s no “underground vault” where the government hoards services. It’s patronizing to assume we’re so uninformed.
Regarding taxation, Adams proposes that instead of raising funds by tax “coercion,” we can meet our needs through “voluntary exchange” transactions, in which buyers and sellers freely engage in market exchanges – buying food or clothing, for example.
Adams claims taxation is also a transaction, but different in that taxation is involuntary and we are at the mercy of politicians who select the services we receive. Perhaps he forgets that it’s the public servants we elect, who – collaborating with other elected officials – decide by majority how to use taxpayer funds to best support the community.
Governments have a right to levy taxes. And there are solid reasons why we should pay them. Local taxes fund schools, parks, athletic facilities, fire and police, and all functions of local county government. At the state and federal level, taxes are collected for a multitude of services necessary for the economic, safety and social health of the state and its citizens, including national defense.
We are all taxed for services from which we receive no benefit. Taxes are not menu items. If they were, consider these examples:
• I have no children, so I have no vested interest in the school system. Suppose the thousands of us in the county, who don’t have children, decide not to pay taxes for education. Let those who have children in school foot every penny.
• I never drive on Rt. 33, so I don’t want to pay state tax for paving and maintaining this route. Let others who use the road pay for it through increased taxes or high tolls.
• I decide to pay my county taxes for police and fire service. You, my neighbor, elect not to. My house catches fire and the flames move to your house. The fire department extinguishes my house fire but not yours. Sorry.
The same principle applies to funding the county’s broadband towers, which will provide the infrastructure for internet providers. The taxes we will pay for the towers are not only necessary, they’re essential to obtaining the service so many
of us need.
Expenditures from taxation, whether we benefit from them or not, ensure that our county remains economically viable and socially responsible.
Adam’s letter may arise from a desire to install fiber optics, a more robust method of delivering internet service. But fiber will not be installed in the county in the foreseeable future. The population is not large enough. If there were a business case for bringing in fiber, service providers like Verizon and Comcast would already be investing the tens of millions of dollars required for installation.
The board has already voted to construct the towers. Consider this issue resolved and move on.
Editor’s note: this piece originally appeared as a letter to the editor in the January 18th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted in it’s entirety with the author’s permission.
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