If Rhode Island is famous, it's famous not for you but for potholes. Last night the Baronette and I were driving down a street in one of the Less Desirable neighborhoods of Providence and encountered such potholes as I, a native, have never seen. The weather this winter has been hell on the pavement. We're talking covering-entire-lanes-of-traffic-or-more, literally over a foot deep, people having to take turns going different ways because if you go into this one you're not coming out potholes. Then, later on, we were driving down a street in one of the More Desirable neighborhoods and, lo and behold, there were no potholes.
The Baronette turned to me (while keeping one eye on the road) and said something like this: "I wonder how people who are apologetic for the power, for the current order, justify this kind of thing?"
I happen to know how they justify this kind of thing. Once upon a time, I worked briefly at a small business owned by a professional, educated, Subaru-driving, lesbian, NPR-listening,* capital-L Liberal of the first order, who also just happened to live on literally the wealthiest street in the city.
*I once mentioned that I didn't like NPR partly because they were too conservative (misleading word I know) for me, and she was shocked. "But it's the most liberal news source out there!" she exclaimed.
One day over lunch I brought up some work I was doing with a group fighting to keep the then-endangered branches of the Providence Public Library from being closed by the greedy assholes on its governing board who wanted to sell off the properties to developers. (The situation, by the way, is much better now; the branches are operated by a community organization whose interest is actually in keeping the branches running, and while there are still problems--like for instance the fact that the old board still owns the physical buildings and is putting up a stink about turning them over as they agreed to which means that urgently needed renovations have been delayed--they are slowly but surely being resolved.) I mentioned in passing, naïvely expecting a quick nod of agreement and recognition, that of course the branches that weren't threatened with closure were primarily the branches serving the richer parts of the city.
At this point, though, the Boss had something she needed to say. Like many, she was under the impression that the Providence Public Library system was operated by the local government,* and so she said, "Well, if there's a money problem, we** should get priority, because we pay so much more taxes."
You don't get more liberal than that.
*As most public libraries are. However, the PPL and the current PCL are both considered, with differing degrees of accuracy, private non-profits).
**The first person plural, which encompassed no one in the room but herself, was conjured up by her, unbidden.
When I wrote up my model recently, one of several inspirations for it was my having one of those weird realizations where it's not like you suddenly understand anything you didn't already, but you just suddenly put words in an order that clarifies things to you in a way new to yourself. In this case, my realization was that modern taxation grew naturally out of tribute; in other words, the system of requiring lots of people to pay (whether in money, concrete resources, or services) directly to the ruling forces has never fundamentally changed. Only the stated justification has: now, we're told that we pay taxes in exchange for government services.
So with that (obvious, but new-in-form) clarifying thought in my head, I responded to the Baronette's question (remember that?) with my story about my former boss. And I think it can be instructive to keep all of this stuff in mind when liberals talk about taxes, because liberals love taxes, and I think one reason why is that it's a way to quantify how much they feel like they deserve. Yes, they do a lot of talking about social safety nets or whatever, but if there's a money problem,* they should get priority because they pay so much more taxes.
*By the way, I feel honor-bound to mention that there was no money problem, demonstrably, inarguably, factually, in the case of the PPL, despite its board's claims.
Which amounts to saying that they've done more prostrating before power, that they have served power better. Meanwhile, they will go on and on about teapartiers who are "too stupid" to realize that under Obama their taxes have gone down rather than up, because they don't understand that there's more to taxes than what shows up on your pay stub.
Because your tribute will be extracted one way or another. What you get in exchange for that tribute depends entirely on your social standing and, more importantly, the whims of the people you're paying it to.