Every time we’ve called for higher taxes on the rich, we’ve been asked over and over again why we don’t just give more money to the IRS if we’re so concerned that we’re not paying enough in taxes.
It’s true, you can send additional money to the IRS as a donation if you want to. Every single Patriotic Millionaire could send all of their money to the federal government. But that’s completely missing the point.
We don’t want to pay higher taxes just for the sake of paying more. We don’t want to pay more because we don’t like having as much money as we do. We want higher taxes on the rich because the kind of country we want to live in requires us to pay higher taxes.
We don’t just send more money to the IRS because our individual funds simply aren’t enough to make a difference. These problems are too big for any one person, however rich, to fix on his or her own. A few wealthy people giving our money to the government wouldn’t fund a massive investment in our country’s infrastructure, for instance, but by spending our time, energy, and money advocating for that same investment, we hope to make a difference.
You can look at this in a more concrete way. If you lived in a town with a massive river running straight through the middle of it and you thought there should be a bridge over that river, you would have two options. You could try to build that bridge yourself, brick by brick, in a slow, haphazard process that would probably end up with a pretty terrible bridge. Or you could gather the people of the town to build it together, for the common good. Some might question the merits of the bridge, but no one would ask, “Why don’t you just build it yourself?”, because that would be ridiculous.
If you thought that the education system in your town was awful, it would be absurd to expect you to quit your job and become a teacher to fix it. If the roads in your neighborhood need paving, you shouldn’t have to go out and pave them yourself.
We do things together for a reason. We act as a society to take care of the things we can’t fix ourselves. When we’ve faced great challenges as a nation in the past, like in World War II, we didn’t ask for voluntary contributions. We used higher taxes to pay for it, and we benefited from that collective action and shared sacrifice.
We are ready to step up to the plate to pay more for the greater good, but we are not willing to make that sacrifice in vain. If there were even the remotest chance of making a dent in the problem by acting alone we would have already done so. Some problems are simply too big to be solved except through collective effort and shared sacrifice. We want to fix our country, but we can’t do it alone.
As we face great challenges today, many of our elected officials seem to have decided that ignoring our problems is easier than asking people to come together to fix them. We believe that we can’t ignore our problems any longer – it’s time for all of us to act.