Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

A Taxing Proposition

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 9, 2021

“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure.

A penalty, on the other hand, is intended altogether to prevent the thing punished.”

–– U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., dissenting opinion, “Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue,” 275 U.S. 87, October term 1927, p100

On that court were Chief Justice William Howard Taft; Associate Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.; Willis Van Devanter; James C. McReynolds; Louis Brandeis; George Sutherland; Pierce Butler; Edward T. Sanford, and; Harlan F. Stone.

Holmes, Brandeis, and Taft are the only names many remember from that group.

Then-POTUS Warren G. Harding, a Republican, nominated Taft, also a Republican, to become Chief Justice (1921–1930) following the death of CJ Edward Douglass White, a Democrat, whom Taft had appointed as CJ in December 1910, while Taft was serving as President (1909–1913). Taft is, to-date, the only individual to have ever served in both positions – President, and SCOTUS Chief Justice.

But, here are a couple interesting facts:

1.) From July 4, 1901 until December 23, 1903, Taft was Governor-General of the Philippines, having been appointed by POTUS William McKinley. Having held that office previously, he should have recused himself from the 1927 case “Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue.” But, he did not.

2.) Edward Douglass White served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, was a strident segregationist, and upheld racist laws which came before the court, including the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson case which gave rise to the “separate but equal” doctrine, and reinforced racist practices in the United States.

Today, such obvious conflicts of interest would not be tolerated. And I note this with a mark of appreciation: Justice Brett Kavanaugh recently recused himself (did not participate in) from a recent case before the court, because his father held some stock in one company being represented to the court.

Technically, “involvement” at that level exclusively doesn’t violate ethics rules, but having erred on the side of caution – exercised jurisprudential reservation – is commendable. That is because it demonstrates a sense or level of self-acknowledgement, and by extension, awareness of, one’s own biases – a genuine possession of the highest ideal is as a disinterested observer – is such a rarity, even today.

Yet, one could not opine for late Justice Scalia’s bombastic temperament, and numerous interests in cases which came before him. And Neil “Frozen Trucker” Gorsuch has done nonesuch.

But on taxes…

Taxes are indeed, truly the price we pay for civilization, for government, for so many services which we frequently take for granted… until they’re sold to the Private Sector, and then hijack prices while reducing quality of service.

The quality of water and air are held to high standards by “government bureaucrats,” whose sole job is to ENFORCE THE LAW.

And because, NO ONE wants to:

• Drink dirty water, or breathe poisoned air.

• Ride in cars that could explode without warning.

• Eat adulterated or poisoned food.

• Take their lives into their own hands when they go to work, because safety features on equipment has been hijacked, or removed.

Of course, the “often-taken-for-granted” part is law enforcement, judicial system organization, executive-level services, fire protective services, emergency and on-scene care, education, etc.

I would dare say that most would have no moral, nor philosophical objections to taxation, and like most others, wish to see it used wisely, efficiently, effectively, even judiciously, per se, and that the burden of continued maintenance and costs be borne justly, meaning that the wealthy should pay a higher and greater percentage rate, than others.

Initiation of, the historical burden, and imposition of taxes, is not the subject. It is the just assignment of cost, that most costs be borne, not on the whole, but by those most able to afford it as an expression of proportionality – the wealthy, and well-to-do.

And as the ProPublica investigation has shown,


There will be more shocking revelations from ProPublica’s investigation about America’s tax code, and how the wealthy are gaming the system in the days ahead.

America’s tax code is a old, old run-down jalopy which needs no mere “overhaul.” There’s just so many patches that can be placed on patches, which have been placed upon patches, and patches, and patches.

The entire thing should be scrapped, and started over from scratch.


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