Monday, April 03, 2006

You Gotta BEE-lieve

Today I was placed in a situation that really started me thinking about how much many people have invested, psychologically, in the current size of the government. If you start to accept that the level of taxation we are currently at is even somewhat appropriate, then you really have to convince yourself that the things we spend tax revenues on are necessary. I say this after paying almost $1000 in taxes to bring a car purchased in New York into New Jersey. Setting aside the issue of having to pay taxes on something purchased elsewhere (which could be argued as just plain wrong…or maybe I’m just bitter), the rate of taxation is a real killer. Utterly ridiculous, in my opinion…but if you don’t feel that way, then you better REALLY believe in the way that money gets spent. And since I feel that probably (at least) half of it is completely wasted, I balk at paying that kind of money.

What I’m really trying to say is that there is a kind of cognitive dissonance that must occur in many people when they are confronted with the possibility that a large percentage of tax revenue is going down the drain. Rather than admit that taxes are too high, we try to convince ourselves that everything they pay for is immensely valuable to society. Thereby solving any internal conflicts we may have with coercing others to pay for our pet projects. This faith in government programs is a kind of belief is a psychological coping mechanism – which creates an interesting and difficult problem for those of us who want to convince others that we’ve let the government grow too large.


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