14 April 2009

Caesar’s Day

Well, here it is, Caesar’s annual ritual. Yes, I mean tax day, which is not tax paying day so much as tax reckoning day.

We all hate taxes of course. But we all love roads, schools, sewer lines, garbage collections, fire fighters and police. Cognitive dissonance is built into us, I suppose. We all want to be free of government intrusion and yet also want and safe and reliable society. Ideologues tell us it can be perfect, but as Immanuel Kant observed (and is now displayed on the NYC subways I read) “From crooked wood nothing straight can be made.”

Humans are imperfect creatures. News flash, right? But somehow we think we can overcome this fact just the way economists tell us we can violate the laws of entropy and thermodynamics.

Taxes are as inevitable as garbage and entropy, and as powerful. Just as we cannot make and consume without leaving something behind that is waste, so we cannot have a society that runs perpetually without some fuel. Good intentions are insufficient as long as human beings are involved.

Emerson said, “Everything God made has a crack in it.” Bill Graham said one thing I agree with on the same point. “If you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it because then it won’t be.”

So while I regret the writing of checks, and equally the elaborate process of determining exactly how much, I have no ground to complain. My lights work, my sewers run, the streets are safe, the things most people do not have at all I never even think about. Could it be better? Sure and we should strive for that, but will it ever be perfect?

If you think so, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn that I can sell you very cheap.

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