Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is Living in the United States a Right or a Privilege?

       This post is not on a topic that I normally discuss on this blog, but instead was just one that I was thinking about the today. After reading some articles about the situation in New Hampshire - about how the state GOP stated that repealing the gay marriage law in the state is not on the agenda for the next two years and instead they will be focusing on economic issues instead - my mind drifted towards those same economic issues, and the inevitable concept of taxes.

        Why do we pay taxes? And what is their purpose? If you talk to anyone in the Tea Party or of the Libertarian/Conservative bent, you will get the impression that taxes are a bad thing and that the government should decrease taxes. On the other hand, if you talk with a Liberal, they will not go so far as to say that taxes are good, but they will deem them to be a necessity to fund social programs and other entitlements. Then there are the arguments that high taxes hurt economic growth and are bad for nations as a whole. But lets get away from this "economic" discussion of taxes, and instead look at them in a more philosophical bent.

     I was talking with the husband a few months ago, and this concept of higher taxes was brought up. Myself - having a more economically conservative bent - was adamantly opposed to increased taxes based upon their economic impact. He on the other hand, made a very good point. We pay taxes for the privilege of living in the country that we do, and be under the government that we are. This concept opened my eyes, and I started to ask myself, "Is living in the United States (or Canada where I am presently) a right of mine, or is it a privilege?"

     Many times it is inferred that somehow we as Americans have the right to live in the United States. Though we might not say it, this overarching attitude also has the inference of our individual "uniqueness or specialness", as if just because of who we are that we are living in the United States. And, considering that the pervading thought of Americans is that the United States is the best country in the world, this naturally leads to the conclusion that we have the "right" to live in the best country in the world. But, what about the other people of the world, are they less than us because somehow we have been given this right and they have not? Instead of this mentality of a "right" to live somewhere, I find it better to think that we have the privilege of living where we do. This gets us back to the reason for why we have taxes. If living in a country is a right, the government has no reason to take any form of taxes from us, for by doing so they are infringing upon our economic rights and prosperity. Conversly, if living in a nation is a priviledge, the government does and should have the authority of funding itself through the collection of taxes.

    So what do you all think? Does is living in the United States a right or a privilege? If it is a privilege, are taxes an acceptable way for the government to gather from us the cost of that privilege. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.


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