Tax-why do I have to pay it?

Governments need money to provide things that are too expensive and not useful enough for one person or group of people to pay for. Since ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, there has always been some sort of tax that goes to the government. There have also always been mixed feelings about that fact.

You get the idea

It’s human nature to want to protect what we’ve earned, but modern society can’t function without someone providing certain resources for the good of the entire population. Good luck trying to find someone nice enough to fund the Fire Brigade, for example. Or buy a submarine, or run a hospital.

An example

Think of it in terms of Wi-Fi. Good wifi is awesome. You can apply for jobs, learn things or just search for videos of children falling over. (that last one is hilarious btw). It creates a benefit for you that improves your happiness and productivity as a member of society. Yay!

Wifi is the best!

But good wifi is expensive. For the really fast, unlimited plans, you’re facing at least $70 a month, not including setup fees like the modem. (Boo!). Fortunately, you and your three flatmates live in an apartment building and your neighbour has already got a lightning fast internet plan. Even better, he wasn’t tech-savvy enough to set up a password on his network.

This is totally how stealing wifi works

Another part of human nature is wanting to get as much as possible for free.  Imagine trying to get your neighbours to chip in for a $6000 street light when they know that they’ll still enjoy a well-lit street even if you pay for the whole thing.

Artist depiction of your neighbour’s response

So back to the wifi story:

You could decide to mooch off his connection, after all, you’re just one extra person, right? But then the other housemates catch on. They also start using Mr Neighbour’s network. Because it’s free, everyone is watching their own episode of Game of Thrones in their rooms, rather than sharing to reduce the load. Now things are getting noticeably slower.

Mr Neighbour, who only got the connection in the first place so he could Skype his daughter in Sweden, is now getting frustrated at the poor speed of his internet connection. He spent a lot of money on this plan and it’s just not delivering. One Monday night, when the internet is running particularly slow, he gives up. “That’s it!” he cries. He decides to go back to long-distance phone calls and unplugs the modem then and there.

Now nobody has wifi, and we’ll never know who will claim the Iron Throne.

John Snow? Dragon lady? We’ll never know!

This is a pretty simple example, but it shows that resources aren’t free. It’s not sustainable to expect some people to pay for something that’s used by everyone.

In tax terms, this means that the government takes a bit from everyone and pays the wifi bill so that everyone can enjoy the internet. Often people disagree with exactly what the money is spent on, or how much their share to pay should be, but essentially, tax is a social obligation that also happens to be the law.

just like wearing pants in public

 

 

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