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Time for a tax ballot? Author: Steve Trinward
Posted on 02.10.11 by Steve Trinward

So now the truth comes out from the Leftist press: it’s not a matter of what’s right, just what’s customary!

The recent attempts by Republican Congressthings to let people exempt themselves from paying taxes for abortions SHOULD have prompted a movement to make ALL aspects of government “opt in”; instead, it has led only to “progressive” pundits from all over that realm of the political spectrum saying things like, “We pay taxes for a lot of things that we don’t agree with. Why should this be any different?”

In light of the legacy of war-tax resistance, along with so many other examples of civil disobedience in the leftist heritage, it’s amazing to see such weak-kneed justification for cracking down on anti-abortion sentiments as something evil and nefarious (and dare I say it, implicitly ‘un-American’?). After all, the convictions of those who consider abortion to be “murder” are no less valid than those who consider wars (or at least the vast majority of them) or the death-penalty to be such, and who object to funding those atrocities.

It’s also kinda strange to see “progressives” so openly advocating the statist-quo. One would think that these allegedly forward-looking (hence the name?) folks would see this as an opening to create voluntarism in government, starting with its weakest point: the funding! Instead of marching in the streets, we could indeed be ‘voting with our wallets” and refusing to pay for wars, corporate bailouts and other things considered anathema to progressive/liberal/whatever-ya-call-it-these-days intentions.

Consider the possibilities if they were willing to grant liberty (aka “choice”) to those they claim oppose it: today we allow some people to deflect their taxes from paying for abortions; tomorrow we allow others to refuse to pay for corporate bailouts; the next day we stop participating in the funding of war, unless we specifically choose to do so.

It’s called a “tax ballot” and it is clearly time to raise it as a discussable issue once more. The concept is simple: allow taxpayers the option of filling out one more form when they file that 1040, a form listing a general overview of government programs now in existence, with a column of blanks beside it. Those who choose to avail themselves of this could then fill those blanks with percentages (or dollar amounts, based on the actual bottom line on that 1040), indicating what they wish to support out of that government smorgasbord, and to what extent. (By leaving a row blank, they could indicate that under no circumstances should one penny of their tax payment go to back THAT program or aspect of the Federal game.)

As a valid precedent, I can only point to one of the grandest examples of using “choice” to promote a similarly controversial issue. In fact, it involved the very same issue: abortion funding. It happened back in the early 1970s, some 40 years ago, at the University of Maine’s main campus in Orono. The Student Council faced a confrontation over whether or not student activities fees could be applied to “health services” broadly enough to encompass a loan fund for students seeking to obtain abortions.

One side of the debate proclaimed that denying this assistance (in the form of loans, not subsidies or gifts) was discriminating against those students whose medical needs were just as valid as anyone else’s among the student body. The other side said this policy was forcing them to support something they considered to be “murder.” They were both right, and the Student Council had to find a solution to please both sides.

The Council president at the time was a young man named Bill Eames. (He had also been a childhood friend and neighbor of mine back in our hometown of Bethel, but that’s not really important here.) According to accounts presented since then, it was he who came up with the ultimate answer: anyone who wished to support the abortion loan fund was to signify so in writing. Only by “opting in” to the loan fund as a target for a portion of one’s individual activity fee would those funds be in any way connected to the funding of student abortions. Those who wanted to keep their payment money out of the pool had no action required of them.

The measure passed; the fund was established; and things settled down until the next campus-wide controversy. Over the next several years there were a number of young women who, when faced with that difficult choice, had at least one more option open to them.

It would sure be nice if we could offer all taxpayers such a wider set of options, on any and all of the issues that matter to them. A good place to start might be this proposed abortion opt-out, although it would be far more valid if it were an “opt in” for those who choose to support the program… or any other aspect of the Federal government.

But then the Federal gummint of the U.S. would be showing as much good sense as a rural Maine country boy once did… and that’s probably too much to ask!


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