Apr 15, 2008 General
New York Times Op-Ed contributor Richard Conniff wrote a piece where he calls for us to abolish all taxes. his method for accomplishing this is to change the word taxes to dues. Conniff writes that this would take a page from the conservative play book where words are changed to reframe the debate. He cites changing the “estate tax” to “death tax” as an example. His rant gives the impression that conservatives are the ones who do this and it is our trick. Liberals would never do such a thing such as change their name to progressives to give the impression that they are on the move and because liberal has been defined as a dirty word.
Conniff said if we call them dues rather than taxes it will give people a sense of belonging.
But the word “dues” also plays into the psychology of group identity, and that can work to the benefit of conservatives and liberals alike. Consider that “tax” comes from the Latin for “appraise” with punitive overtones of “censure” or “fault,” as if wage-earners have done something wrong by their labors. “Dues,” in contrast, is rooted in social obligation and duty. NYT
Let us examine this because he might be on to something but if we change he has to be willing to live by the rules established with everything that is associated with the word dues. First of all, a tax is an appraisal. They appraise our work based upon how much we earn and then they take part of it and how much they take is based upon how much the appraised value is.
Dues are something one pays to belong to an organization. As Conniff puts it; dues are rooted in obligation and duty and I believe that would be an obligation and duty to the organization. In every organization I have belonged to the dues were the same for everyone and they were not based upon the value of my work. I also must note that people only pay dues to organizations they want to join. If they do not want to belong, they do not pay dues. Given this, people will be allowed to choose if they want to belong to the organization and if not they will not be required to pay any dues. Also, dues will be the same for everyone who decides to join. A person making a million dollars will pay the same dues as a person who makes ten thousand. We cannot make people pay different rates based upon salary because that would be an appraisal of their work which is a tax and taxes will have been abolished.
If, for some reason, Conniff advocates for mandatory membership then we need to decide what to do with the people who do not pay any dues. Right now, under the tax system, people who earn too little pay no taxes and yet they receive the greatest number of benefits from those now paying taxes. In an organization where dues are required non dues payers receive no benefits. In fact, people are not allowed to belong if they do not pay their dues. This might not be an issue because our dues will be fixed and not based on income (so everyone will have to pay) but if the powers that be decide that those less fortunate do not have to pay dues then they do not belong and they will not receive benefits of dues paying members. No welfare, no Medicaid, and no voting. If you want the same rights as members you have to pay your dues.
Mr. Conniff has opened a can of worms in his effort to smear conservatives and be cute at the same time. I think he is on to something and that we should switch to dues and follow the customary rules associated with dues. They must be the same for everyone, people may join if they wish, and those who do not join do not get any benefits of membership.
What say you Mr. Conniff, care to reframe this debate further or would you like to continue to be shown as a fool?