Death and taxes. One bothers me. The other doesn’t. You can try to cheat them both, and many people do, however, they will inevitably catch up to you.
Taxes have been around for nearly as long as dirt. Even one of the Disciples of Jesus was a tax collector! Both the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians had different forms of taxation, and even back then people tried to cheat on their taxes. Scribes made sure to audit households to make sure everything was in order. I suppose it’s only natural that as soon as taxes exist, there will be someone trying to buck the system.
On the whole, I think the concept of taxation is a good idea. However, I also think that Socialism is a good concept. It’s one of those things that works best on paper. Try to put into effect though, and the whole shoddy house of cards will come fluttering down around your ears.
In history, taxation has caused more than a few problems. The Boston Tea Party anyone? Or how about the Smithfield riots in England during the 17th century? Historically, a good proportion of taxes went to supporting the war machine, whether it was the Ancient Greeks and their eisphora, Oliver Cromwell’s supporting army, or the ongoing costs of the Napoleonic war, the public was expected to help support it.
Even now, there are people who are more than willing to take advantage of the taxpayer. David Cameron, the British prime minister, introduced plans for a Welfare Reform Bill in February of this year. According to research, there are 1.4 million people who have been on out-of-work benefits for over a decade. They do not pay taxes. But guess who’s supporting their right not to work? You. The taxpayer. Does that seem right? Or fair?
This, however, is not about benefits and those who play the system. Taxes, on the whole, are beneficial. I went to public school for the better part of my life, as did my parents. My grandmother passed away two years ago and spent several months in and out of hospital. As my family lives in the UK, all of her health care was covered by the National Health Service, which funded by taxes. Roads, firemen, police-officers, public parks- all of these things exist because of the taxpayer. I think that’s something to be proud of.
Death, the inevitable twin to taxes, seems like it should be more straightforward, but it’s not. If anything, death is more much complex. There are emotions involved with death. Sure, there are some people who decide not to pay taxes- they may or may not end up in jail. However, you cannot decide not to die. Think of all the people who die when they don’t deserve to. Think of all the people who don’t die, but definitely deserve to. I could make a list as long as my arm without even troubling my brain with the details.
Death is natural. It’s part of the process of living. However, violent death, or sudden death, or death by long and terrible illness steals the calm acceptance that one might ordinarily have towards it. In those circumstances, the fulfillment and dignity of a long life have been removed from the equation. There were several ancient cultures who believed that death was not the end, merely the start of a brand-new journey. Indeed, the death card in the tarot deck stands for changes and new beginnings. Of course, I know plenty of people who are truly frightened by change (my cat included) in the way that most people are frightened by the concept of death. However, in dying before one’s time, part of the journey has been cut short.
It can be a celebration. If someone has been sick and in pain, death can be a blessing- a release from the prison of a failing body. A long life, lived well, may leave a person with no regrets when the time comes. They may be ready to head into the light or haunt Aunt Mabel’s attic- whatever seems most appropriate under the circumstances.
Taxes might cause tears and grief. I can’t quite see taxes causing any kind of celebration- not unless you have a truly exceptional accountant. However, whatever we think of them, death & taxes, makes absolutely no difference. There will always be taxation in some form. There will always be death in some form. How we feel about it is entirely inconsequential.
There’s not much comfort in that, is there?