I’m in the middle of The Benefit and The Burden (which is very interesting, albeit un-engaging and somewhat repetitive) and it has me thinking taxes. There’s so much standing in the way of fairness when the federal government raises revenue, and no matter where you try to fix things, someone gets burned.
While there are no doubt more impactful angles, as I put down my Kindle-via-iPhone in response to the fresh green light last week, I wondered if one of the problems isn’t the vast chasm between the individual and the Federal Government. The former pays the latter and expects the latter to serve … but the latter isn’t really configured to serve the former; it’s made to serve something in between (the States). The States, too, aren’t made to serve the individual, but the municipality – and there we finally reach the level positioned for the originally sought service.
Is it possible, I thought, for us to more appropriately align the money-paid, services-rendered relationship? In other words, instead of paying the Feds, who fund the States, who fund the cities, who serve the people … could the individuals just pay the cities and the cities serve directly?
Yes, I know of (and pay) local taxes. My point, though, would be to have those be the only taxes I pay. People need local services, so they pay the cities to get them. Even when a service is “national,” that really just means a local branch runs on federal dollars – and those are nothing more than individual dollars that took the long way around.
In addition, quite conveniently, the proximity and familiarity of the individual-city relationship promotes the representation taxation requires and the participation it needs.
If cases arise where an individual has needs requiring a State’s intervention (if such even exist), the city hires the State to support. In fact, that’s the State’s entire purpose: to serve the cities. And, if you’re picking up the trends here, that means the cities are the State’s only source of income.
Yes, moving up a level, you’ve likely guessed the Federal-State relationship by now: States pay the Feds money and have representation (in the Senate and House), and the Feds provide services. Keep in mind, however, these services don’t extend to shoveling money down the pipeline; the money goes the other direction. The services include things like national defense, State contract arbitration, etc.
Another aspect this brings to the table is the ability of states to pick and choose the services they want. So, the federal government can looks to each state and say, “You must pay $X/thousand people to be a part of the brotherhood, which will cover essential services like national defense. Then, if interested, each state can choose from this catalogue of service at the states rates.”
Then the state says the same to the towns, and the towns to the people.
Of course, none of this precludes the various levels of government from raising funds via other means (e.g., tariffs), but such doesn’t extend to skipping levels to charge those not directly served.
I believe that’s the end of it. Will I sound totally conceited if I mention how simple and elegant this feels? Ok, I won’t say it, then. I’ll just think it from now until someone points out the holes…
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