The Corner

A Tax Game

In today’s Impromptus, I do some meditating, and grumping, on taxes. Not sure how that subject managed to come up. I relate a little memory from early college days. A conservative friend and I were paying taxes, something we had never done before. And we would imagine — just for fun — that our tax dollars were going to particular purposes. For example, we’d say, “My taxes are going to pay Elliott Abrams’s salary!” He was a young assistant secretary of state, damn smart, and a joy to watch on television. We’d see him on Crossfire occasionally. Or we’d say, “My taxes are going toward contra aid!” We said that because everyone around us thought the contras were diabolical.

A reader writes,

Jay,

I used to do the same thing. I liked to think my taxes were going toward powering an aircraft carrier at sea. I pictured my contribution keeping her bow cutting through the waves for about a tenth of a second. (Not a precise calculation.) Anyway, it made me feel better about the missing dough.

What are your taxes going toward this year? Everybody, left, right, and center, can think of answers that make him shudder; and of answers that make him smile. Just a little game, is all — call it a psychological exercise. But taxes are still too high, too numerous, too burdensome, too complicated, too counterproductive — I could go on, but you may have tax returns to fill out.

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