“Look at our political institutions. You have, say, the New Hampshire primary. In a democratic society, what would happen is the people in a town in New Hampshire would get together in their own organizations, assemblies, groups, whatever they are, and take off a little time from whatever careers or other activities that they’re engaged in and say, ‘Alright, let’s work out what we would like to see in the next election.’
And they’d come up with some sort of program: we’d like to see this. Then, if some candidate says, ‘I would like to come to town to talk to you,’ they would respond, ‘Well you can come if you want to listen to us.’ And the candidate could come and they would explain to him what they want…
What happens is totally different.
Nobody meets in the town. The candidate and his media representatives announce that he or she is coming to New Hampshire and they gather people together. The people sit there and listen to the candidate saying, ‘Look how wonderful I am, I’m going to do all these great things,’ and nobody believes a word and then they go home. Well, you know, that’s the opposite of democracy.
In fact, we see it all the time. Take, say, April 15th. In a functioning democratic society that would be a day of celebration, the day you hand in your taxes. You would be saying: ‘Alright, we got together, we worked out some plans and programs that we think ought to be implemented and we’re now participating in providing the funding to get these things done.’ That’s a democracy. In the United States it’s a day of mourning. It’s a day when this alien force, you know, the government, which comes from Mars or somewhere is arriving to steal from us our hard earned money and use it for their own purposes, whatever they are. That’s a reflection of the fact that the concept of democracy is not even in people’s minds anymore. Now, I’m exaggerating. It’s not quite this sharp, but it’s pretty close.”
Noam Chomsky, speaking in ‘Part IV: Political Institutions’ of The Chomsky Sessions on ZNet. You can find extended interviews with Dr. Chomsky in the always challenging Class Warfare: Interviews with David Barsamian.
In the United States, April 15th is statistically shown to be the second most stressful day of the year, as 56% of American adults say the tax-filling process is “stressful” and 18% say it is “very stressful.” (Data from a Zogby poll shows peak tornado season to be the most stressful day of the year.) Three quarters of Americans say money is “a significant cause of stress in [their] lives,” leaving us unsurprised that the day a large stack of that cash is handed over would be an especially anxious one. You are also far more likely to be injured in a car accident on April 15th and 16th, given each sees statistically significant spikes in incidents of road rage (Super Bowl Sunday is the second most dangerous day to be on the road, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association).
Don’t agree with Noam? You’re still in some good company:
- Calvin Coolidge puts forward a simple definition of when taxes are tyrannical
- Philosopher Robert Nozick succinctly argues that taxes are a form of slavery
- One of my absolute favorite recent rants: Stefan Molyneux tells a story about the tragedy of taxes — namely, that only the fruits of virtue can be taxed