Every year I think about writing this post exactly once. It happens when I mail a check to the IRS.
Even though we have essentially the lowest rates of taxation in the industrialized world, incessant bitching about taxes seems to be an American birthright. Some people allow it to take over their lives until they become, at best, unpleasant, consistent and predictable ranters in the office break room. At worst they become "tax protesters" who divide their time between tar paper shacks in Idaho and Federal courtrooms.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." That sums up the way I feel. Due to peculiarities in the manner in which grad students are paid at my University and a pair of very active online trading accounts, I inevitably end up owing Uncle Sam several hundred dollars annually. I don't like paying it. You could even say I dislike it. I often utter profanities as I write the check. But you know what? I put it in the mail and proceed to get the fuck over it.
The fact that millions of my countrymen are unable to do so is, well, sad. I pity them. The amount of energy they waste and the amount of time they spend being pissed off about this is as unfortunate as it is illogical. The ideology of the Tax Bitcher seems to imply that without taxes and their accompanying rage he or she would be happier. The older I get, the more I doubt that.
Tax rage is just a symptom of how the (largely white) middle and upper-middle classes react to the steady erosion of the American Dream(tm) since the 1960s. No one understood the proper formula for political success in this era and with this demographic better than Ronald Reagan: pick something that angry white people are predisposed to dislike and blame it for their fading prosperity. The statement "_________ is/are taking all of your money" may be Ronnie's greatest legacy. It works with just about any convenient target. Welfare queens. Government. Immigrants. The liberal media. Black people. Any noun will do in a pinch.
People buy so heavily into a system and a way of life, even though it regularly fucks them, that they're willing to defend it more viciously than those who actually benefit from it. Explaining one's miserable, unhappy, unprosperous life by confronting the systemic flaws and rampant inequality built into our society is emotionally difficult after a lifetime of defending it. Picking a target and blaming the hell out of is easy. All it requires is a willing suspension of rationality, as if dropping the Tax Bitcher's burden from 28% to 20% would solve all of his problems and lead to non-stop, rainbows-out-the-ass happiness.