The Following Reforms Should Come To Pass
Debate Rounds (3)
If you're Pro-Life, and you state this on paper when you pay your taxes, the government will not spend your taxes on funding abortion clinics.
If you're anti-war, and you state this on paper when you pay your taxes, the government will not spend your taxes on funding the military.
If you're an environmentalist, and you state this on paper when you pay your taxes, the government will not spend your taxes on oil rigs or pipelines.
Pretty much if you object to something the government's doing and you state it on paper when you pay your taxes, the government won't spend your taxes on that thing. Your taxes will be spent on something else. Of course, it shouldn't be that you're exempt from any taxes.
These are reforms that I believe should come to pass in the United States. Accept this challenge only if you're willing to debate for all three rounds.
Thanks for the interesting debate topic--I think this is a common complaint of many Americans and one which should be addressed.
While Pro's arguments are undoubtedly appealing at first, we must remember that the United States has a representative government. This means that we elect officials to the government whom we believe will fight for our ideals, whatever they may be. I intend to approach this debate on its general meaning, not the specifics of pro-this and anti-that. My arguments will be against any reform that states something to the effect of: If you do not agree with X, the government will not spend your taxes on X. I believe this conforms with Pro's sentiments.
As anyone who has ever done them knows, taxes are quite complicated. Therefore, I think I'll restrict my first round to federal income taxes. If Pro would like to include state taxes, I'll be happy to reciprocate.
Some important events for federal income taxes:
In 1862, Congress established the position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue in order to levy and collect taxes which would finance the Union Army. http://money.howstuffworks.com... In 1913, the income tax was clarified in the 16th amendment "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration". http://www.usconstitution.net...
In 2013, a breakdown of what federal income taxes were spent on: http://nationalpriorities.org...
We are not individually responsible for setting an agenda for the country, nor should we want to be. The social contract came about so that we would place certain responsibilities in the hands of a few in return for security. The concept of democracy is also peculiar to human nature. Americans pride themselves on fair elections that give reasonable opportunities to a variety of candidates. We gave up the right to certain aspects of our time and money but retained the right to frequently re-elect the people in power. http://oregonstate.edu...
Our government basically operates under a system of checks and balances. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches theoretically work together to provide the necessary government services for the US. We may not always personally agree with how a service is run, but we gave the privilege and the responsibility of running it to the government.
That's not to say that we should or do not have any input. In every election, we are given the choice of how we want our money spent. We make those decisions by voting for candidates who agree with our priorities. After elections, officials must remain responsive to their constituents. Call your congressman to ask for specific change in Washington. Volunteer for committees or take surveys that provide the government with popular response. Democracy is not a spectator sport. But it is also not an individual effort. If I may continue the sports analogy, it's a little like we're drafting players for a team except the players are picked by a majority vote of all the people. Once they're chosen, we don't get to say when they make a pass or take a shot. Sure, we can cheer and boo from the sidelines, and indeed we should commend and criticize politicians when necessary.
Political parties are formed around certain agendas which are deemed important to the people. We, the electorate, may not care to examine all of a politician's stances for each election, so having political parties makes it easier for us to screen candidates and it helps candidates obtain access to resources that might otherwise be inaccessible. The majority of people care only about a few issues--abortion and the environment being two hotly contested topics which Pro brought up. But lack of interest or knowledge does not make other issues less pressing. Transportation and health care affect most people, but it's hard to prioritize highways over a deeply held conviction, and almost everyone has a different opinion on the proper way to address health care which, even if it includes the government probably doesn't include all of the current plan.
Furthermore, there are over 300 million people in the US. The proposal of having each American tell the government how he or she wants tax money spent is not only undermining the democratic system, it is logistically impossible.
I wrote more than I intended, so to sum up my arguments: appropriation of tax revenue is simply a necessary facet of our democratic government; there are more efficient and currently existing ways to direct the flow of such revenues; and the requirements for such proposals as Pro suggests would be burdensome and illogical.
I am looking forward to Pro's response.
Now, as for what you said about a republic, I see one flaw with this system. Politicians may lie or not be completely clear about their stances. For instance, Obama's approval rating is currently low. Many of the people who disapprove of him now probably voted for him in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
If I had enough money to become a politician, I could lie to the American people and say I was a Liberal, getting elected for Senator or Representative in a Blue State. Then I'd carry out Conservative policies, and my supporters would've all voted for me believing that I was a Liberal. If you had enough money, you could do vice versa, convincing conservatives you were a conservative and then carrying out liberal policies when you got elected. Recently, a republican won in a democrat area by misleading the local black community into believing he was black. You never truly know for sure what a politician, Liberal or Conservative, has planned until he or she gets elected and gets the opportunity to carry out his or her agenda.
This is what I believe to be a problem with the American republic system.
Also, the problem with waiting until people file taxes to distribute that money is that Congress and the President must decide on a budget in advance. Government-funded agencies rely on the promised amount of money. If for instance, Congress allots money to conservation efforts but the people's taxes come in and not enough chose to give their money to conservation, National Park workers won't get paid.
The majority of our income taxes goes to health care, defense spending, and social security. http://www.nbcnews.com... Is that how Americans would allot their money? If not, a lot of government-funded organizations would essentially be run on popular vote, which is not stable at all. People won't want to work in those jobs since they might get laid off or have to take a pay cut in any given year because they are not assured of funding. And government programming would quickly devolve.
I suppose this leads into Pro's next rebuttal, that the American republic is fatally flawed. If we gave (or tried to give) Americans the absolute choice of deciding where their money goes, what is the point of having our government agencies after all? It would be simpler to eliminate the middleman and have people spend their money how they wish. However, this seems uncomfortably close to anarchy, and Pro neglects the checks on politicians that prevent blatant lies.
The politician you mention who deceived voters, Dave Wilson, was running for a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees. He didn't really think he'd win but after he did, he stated that "Every time a politician talks, he's out there deceiving voters". http://www.businessinsider.com... And this may be true to an extent, but political parties keep candidates in line with certain values and hold politicians to some standards when voting. For instance, I'm sure Mr. Wilson will not be re-elected (and even now his opponent is contesting the election) and this is hardly the next Presidential candidate. Federal government officials are generally subject to much more scrutiny, though we do have an impressive number of malingerers and deadbeats currently in Congress.
Obviously, I'm frustrated with the system too. But the proposed reforms will not make things run more smoothly, they will add another problem.
Thanks again for the interesting debate, and have a wonderful New Year!
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