While it is very bad form to use a Dan Riehl post as a jumping-off point for a serious question, you blog with the jumping-off points you have, not the jumping-off points you wish you had. So, then:

Each year about this time, as many of us supplement our paycheck-to-paycheck giving unto Caesar, I raise this question. This year, let’s start with the following observation from a reader, sent in the wake of the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. He notes that “terrorism” is defined, in Webster’s, as “the systematic use of terror, esp. as a means of coercion,” and provides a long list of examples, past and present, where the U.S. government has done exactly that. He then notes that under the current Patriot Act, it is now illegal to provide money to organizations that practice terrorism, and therefore concludes that as a matter of national security he must refuse to pay his federal taxes.

Now, it’s unlikely that any IRS or federal court will agree with that novel conclusion, but our reader has a point. Why do we continue to willingly pay for programs and policies that put ourselves and our country (not to mention countless people in other lands) in greater danger? The bloodshed and corporate welfare in our name and with our money — and our kids’ money, and their kids’, and their kids’ — raises an obvious but seldom-asked question: why do so many of us pay our income taxes?

It’s not a rhetorical question, with the obvious answer: “Because they make us.”

There’s a less obvious answer, too, and either of these could equally well answer the question “why do so many of us not mug old ladies?” At some point, of course, this no longer works, and the perceived cost of this social contract outweigh the perceived benefits. If you’ve got Wesley Snipes money, you may reach this point sooner.

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