There’s an interesting line in this Slate article, discussing the Austin kamikaze:
Sure, it may look like greed to keep 100 percent of your paycheck, but Stack was doing it all for us!
This little remark is in the service of a larger, possibly valid, point, but I want to focus on the small-scale question of greed.
The Slate quote is obviously ironic; the writer is implying that Stack was greedy for wanting to keep 100% of his paycheck. This strikes me as a disturbing worldview. (I’m avoiding a discussion of whether the writer’s characterization of Stack’s views is accurate; did he object to all taxes – state, local, sales, property, excise, inheritance, capital gains, unemployment, corporate, and social security, to name a few – or just the federal income tax?)
I can see that taxes are a necessary evil, as governments are necessary, and must be funded somehow. And I can see that, as a practical matter, it’s foolish to refuse to pay them, or to attempt to avoid them with, ah, “cutting-edge” accounting and/or legal theories. I just can’t see it as greedy; surely the most obviously just arrangement is for a man to keep what he earns?
It’s true that the notion of tithing is an ancient one, and that a failure to contribute to one’s church might be seen as a moral failing, possibly even as an instance of the sin of greed. But, you know, governments aren’t churches, and so cannot make the same moral claims on our property.
At any rate, I thought this was a revealing quote, and while reasonable people of good will can have different reactions to it, it seems that those reactions will serve as good predictors of broader political attitudes.