It's not what the headlines are highlighting, but Mitt Romney's 2010 tax return includes one impressive fact: his charitable contributions amounted to $7 million. I know, this hardly put him at risk of losing one of his houses and ending up out on the street till his driver could pick him up and take him to one of his other houses. Still, giving away almost a third of your income is nothing to sneeze at.
Among those of us who maintain that not everything the federal government does should be either privatized or eliminated, it's common to point out that income tax rates are a lot lower than they used to be, especially but not only for the rich.
In my state of South Carolina, we have a long history of not wanting anybody to tell us what to do with our land, our possessions, or our money. This has created a sense of fierce independence, as history bears out.
This week, a former Google executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes so that more people will have the chance to succeed as he has. It was nice to hear the president defend the idea that individual wealth is built in part by collective investment--even if he didn't state it as forcefully as Elizabeth Warren, and even if he mostly avoided the word "taxes" itself.
Outside Paradise, government will never be perfect. But that's no reason to give up on it—any more than the fact that we can't love our children perfectly entails giving up on loving them as well as we can.
Paying taxes in this country is ordinarily accompanied by much grumbling. But paying taxes is not just a legal duty but a moral opportunity.