Right now, if there’s one person I really can’t stand it’s the Taxpayer. He or she annoys me more than the Motorist, the Hardworking Family and even the Wealth Creator. Always in the news, putting his or her name to the latest mean-spirited whinge, this person contributes virtually nothing to society. Sure, there are those taxes, but big sodding deal. That’s no excuse for the way the Taxpayer behaves.
The Taxpayer is not to be confused with all people who pay taxes. Most taxpayers are not the Taxpayer, and it’s a good job too. Can you imagine what life would be like if most people who paid taxes went around acting as though this very fact made them not only morally superior but uniquely exploited? If all workers became so self-aggrandising, so embittered and resentful? We’d hardly get any jobs done! Thankfully there are enough people who recognise that while taxes pay for many things — sometimes things we’d rather they didn’t pay for at all — they don’t buy us the right to appoint ourselves superior human beings. Seriously, for how long do some folk have to be in a job before they can just get over themselves?
It’s almost endearing, this puffed-up belief that your taxes are extra-special and no one else really contributes like you. So you really think the only work of value is paid work? That the only people who’ve a right not to earn are your elderly grandparents and you, should you be ill? How sweet! In the end, though, it gets boring.
Here’s the thing, the Taxpayer. I don’t pay my taxes just for you to co-opt me and all others like me into your self-centred, anti-social vision of how the world should function. Nor do I pay my taxes as some form of highly individualised insurance fund, just so that when bad luck (i.e. the Taxpayer version of fecklessness) befalls me I can rant and rave about how the state should meet my every need because “I’ve paid my taxes, not like [insert name of latest Daily Mail target group]“. Nor do I pay my taxes because I’m generous to a fault, something that’s occasionally suggested by those who witter on about how unfair it is that they’re the ones left “doing the right thing”. I pay my taxes primarily because I don’t have any choice in the matter.
I wish it was because I was a better person but to be honest, if paying taxes was wholly discretionary, a kind of recommended tip for UK plc, I’d probably kid myself that on balance I’m nice enough to my fellow man and sparing enough in my use of public resources not to need to do it. Hence it’s best that I’m forced. I like the theory of sharing more than the personal experience of it (except when I’m the beneficiary). While Taxpayer entitlement seems a bit remote, individual selfishness isn’t.
I don’t think that I, personally, should be owed much simply because I am a taxpayer, that is, someone who for the time being is fortunate enough to have paid employment. I do however think I have one right and that is to ask the Taxpayer to shut the hell up and stop claiming to speak for me, to stop stating what other taxpayers do or don’t want, to stop even saying that it’s still “our” money. If you’re mature enough to engage in debate on how public money should be spent, you should be mature enough to speak for yourself. Sorry, the Taxpayer, but my taxes shouldn’t be used to support your bad faith.