On taxes

I try not to weigh into deep politics, much; I did enough of that when I started Polinaut. Also, when you mention a political issue, the first thing people want to do is figure out what label to slap on your before they dismiss what it is you’re saying or asking.

But sometimes I need to make an exception.

And it comes because of a post on the GOP Convention blog today (Hold your fire, Republicans!), that profiles some of the interns working on the convention. It refers specifically to an article in the Dallas Morning News profiling the young woman.

Ms. Rondeau will intern in the media operations department, working with the professional staff to ensure smooth operations for the more than 15,000 print and broadcast journalists.

Ms. Rondeau is used to hard work: She’s paying her way through college, something that makes her appreciate the Republican stance on issues such as tax cuts.

Why does that intrigue me so? Because it raises about 20 questions that I think people on both sides of the political spectrum should sit and talk about some time. Oh, and I’m generally intrigued when a young person can pay their own way through college; I have no idea how that can be done without significant help.

Consider these possible points of discussion:

  • If you’re paying taxes, that’s less money you have to pay for tuition.
  • Is there a role for the taxpayer to pay for funding higher education, depending on where you choose to attend? For example, you could if you could afford it, attend a private Catholic university for $32,656 a year and pay your own way. Admirable, indeed, but would you base a tax policy on the assumption that everyone could? Or is there a role for the taxpayer-funded public university, which is funded by taxes?
  • What are the limits on taxation? Basic services? Is higher education a basic service?
  • Does a “tax cut” per se help or hurt the person paying tuition. For example, you would have more money to pay your tuition bill, but what if more of the cost of providing that education is passed along to you?
  • Is deregulation good for higher education? Texas tried that at its public universities, and the cost to students and their families went up 40 percent.

    This is a good springboard in the comments section for a discussion about when taxes are meaningful and when they’re not. If you choose to participate, let’s try to do it without the usual political boilerplate both sides usually use, and try to define if there is or is not a public good to be derived from taxes on behalf of those who are paying their own way through school?