Tom Friedman's confusion on taxes being 'patriotic'

Would you like to know the real difference between liberals and conservatives?

Liberals believe your money is the governments. Washington lets you keep a certain percentage of their money (how generous of them, yes?).

Conservatives believe your money is, well, your money. Paying taxes is a duty under the law. We don't think it patriotic when we go the speed limit or don't jaywalk. Neither is it patriotic to pay taxes. Following the law is responsible citizenship and nothing more. There is no onus attached to paying taxes nor should their be any celebratory back slapping. What is, is, and any attempt to attach patriotic significance to obeying the law is loony.

Enter Tom Friedman:

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can't understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can't understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until "victory" declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

Yes, by obeying the law and paying taxes we fund police, firemen, our military, and social programs. But all Palin was saying in the debate was that paying taxes was not "patriotic" - not that we shouldn't pay them. Friedman confuses why we pay taxes with the plebian necessity to do so. If obeying the law is "patriotic," it cheapens and demeans the meaning of the word. In fact, patriotism is going beyond what is expected of us as citizens and serving our country despite the fact that doing so means we deny ourselves the ability of doing what we want to do in our own interest. Patriotism is having an unselfish and self-abnegating attitude toward the non-material. Taxes certainly don't fit the bill.

Ed Lasky adds:

I thought the basis of our country was the citizenry going about our basic lives, 300 million strong: running businesses, careers,raising our children. Tom Friedman seems to think technocrats with our tax dollars "run the country." Taxes run the government, not the country.

This encapsulates the New York Times view of how America should be "run".


It is patriotic to pay taxes if you believe the government already owns your paycheck. Apparently, Friedman and other liberals either can't find any other way to show their patriotism or they have confused being patriotic with the utilitarian act of playing by the rules.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky






Would you like to know the real difference between liberals and conservatives?

Liberals believe your money is the governments. Washington lets you keep a certain percentage of their money (how generous of them, yes?).

Conservatives believe your money is, well, your money. Paying taxes is a duty under the law. We don't think it patriotic when we go the speed limit or don't jaywalk. Neither is it patriotic to pay taxes. Following the law is responsible citizenship and nothing more. There is no onus attached to paying taxes nor should their be any celebratory back slapping. What is, is, and any attempt to attach patriotic significance to obeying the law is loony.

Enter Tom Friedman:

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can't understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can't understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until "victory" declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

Yes, by obeying the law and paying taxes we fund police, firemen, our military, and social programs. But all Palin was saying in the debate was that paying taxes was not "patriotic" - not that we shouldn't pay them. Friedman confuses why we pay taxes with the plebian necessity to do so. If obeying the law is "patriotic," it cheapens and demeans the meaning of the word. In fact, patriotism is going beyond what is expected of us as citizens and serving our country despite the fact that doing so means we deny ourselves the ability of doing what we want to do in our own interest. Patriotism is having an unselfish and self-abnegating attitude toward the non-material. Taxes certainly don't fit the bill.

Ed Lasky adds:

I thought the basis of our country was the citizenry going about our basic lives, 300 million strong: running businesses, careers,raising our children. Tom Friedman seems to think technocrats with our tax dollars "run the country." Taxes run the government, not the country.

This encapsulates the New York Times view of how America should be "run".


It is patriotic to pay taxes if you believe the government already owns your paycheck. Apparently, Friedman and other liberals either can't find any other way to show their patriotism or they have confused being patriotic with the utilitarian act of playing by the rules.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky