Contribute or Not Contribute, That’s the Question

Recently, when I laid out my thoughts about the most sensible way of arranging our society – solving problems together rather than cannibalizing each other – someone agreed with me on principle but voiced worry that such appeals can preface unjustified raids of our pockets by government. This is my response:

There is always justified worry when anyone, even a trusted government, fingers one’s pockets. It’s much worse when the government can’t be trusted.

Back when I finished my studies and started to earn an income, I was proud and glad to pay sustainable taxes to finance public roads and important services like our firefighters, etc. I saw it as my citizen’s duty to contribute to a country from which I was also benefiting in return. Human society is built upon give and take, after all, and I can hardly build all the roads I use myself or extinguish a burning house or street block all on my own. I was glad that I could finally give back and carry my weight.

Then I began to notice how we were making war on countries like Iraq where we have no real business of being (at least back then — before ISIS arose from the power vacuum and laid-off local soldiers this very act produced), and how my government couldn’t be trusted when it had a vice president enrich himself with such for-profit wars and the government sworn to uphold our constitution was nullifying our Bill of Rights with unconstitutional “laws” and unlawful acts (like torture) which flagrantly ignored it. At that point, I began to feel that NOT paying my taxes would be more ethical than paying them; but – of course – it’s not that easy. From there grew my political awakening, and I have seen so much corruption all over our federal, state, and local governments since then, it’s nauseating. It’s also clear to me that we are going over a cliff this way and must clean house, first to turn the doomed ship around, and secondly to finally be able to address the many severe challenges which the universe poses for us (something I had worked on before, only to be sabotaged by short-sighted turf warriors, in itself a rude awakening).

We humans have some big tasks to accomplish – like dealing with horrible diseases, giant natural catastrophes, the destruction of our environment, decrepitude, and death – and before we can really do so, we must stop fighting each other, constantly letting ourselves be completely derailed by thoroughly unnecessary man-made problems of wealth and income inequality which, when working together, we can solve easily. In my humble opinion, this requires some fundamental rethinking about how we live our lives (focusing on happiness, fulfillment, and survival rather than profit) and organize our socio-economic and political culture. This is what I keep trying to invite everybody to join me in. Continued thought and discourse will always be necessary because any new direction we take can go too far, or go off on a tangent, if we don’t regularly re-evaluate and hold true to fundamental principles of fairness, compassion, and common sense, and a big picture vision which we can all agree on. Disagreements on less existential issues will always exist and must be negotiated as carefully and democratically as possible (even if it were only to forestall the rise of despotism), but we should stop letting them get in our way of addressing the big ones. The big issues are issues we are likely to agree upon when we think them through well enough, or so I hope. Insanity and religions can get in the way on that level, but hopefully not too much if we work things out well. After all, big progress for us all has been made in the past despite of them. We need to return to making big, fundamental progress, and in a hurry.


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