John Culleton: Collecting taxes a necessary evil

An early word on taxes came from Daniel Defoe when he said, "Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed."

Ben Franklin repeated the proverb thus: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Taxes are unpleasant. But so is paying for fuel for the family bus. I know at least one person who argues that since you pay a lot for an automobile you should not have to pay for fuel as well.

There is even a biblical reference, where the pharisees seek to trap Jesus of Nazareth by asking him if it is legitimate to pay taxes to Caesar. It is a perfect trap, or so it seems. If he speaks in favor of taxes, he will infuriate the people, and if he speaks against taxes, he is rebelling against Roman authority. But Jesus asks for the coin of tribute, and points out that the coin has Caesar's image and name on it. Then we get the famous quote, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God's."

Tax protesters are advised to pull out a unit of money and note whose name and image is on it.

Nevertheless, some people pretend to think that we can live in our nation without taxes, or without the agency that collects them. Sen. Ted Cruz wants to abolish the IRS and collect taxes on a flat rate using a tax return the size of a postcard. Cruz knows that this cannot be done. It would mean raising taxes on the poor and middle class and lowering them on the well-off and super rich. But it is a great applause line among conservatives.

It is the duty of the government to collect taxes and fees in accordance with the law. In 1791, there was a rebellion by Pennsylvania farmers against a tax on whiskey. The dispute was finally settled by President Washington when he rode into western Pennsylvania at the head of 13,000 militia men from several states. The protesters gave in after this show of force. Washington is the president featured on both the quarter and the dollar.

In Nevada, there is a rancher who runs his cattle on public lands but refuses to pay a grazing fee like the other ranchers do. Some have sought to make a hero of him. But he is nothing more than a freeloader and a cheat. President Obama has not yet sent in the National Guard. But sooner or later this cheapskate will have to pay his debts. The law is the law.

Others favor, or pretend to favor, secession from the United States. This question was settled by Republican President Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the states that are suggested for secession are with one exception states that receive more in federal money than they pay in federal taxes. So their secession would relieve the rest of us of some tax obligations. But it is a silly idea altogether.

There are those who favor impeaching twice-elected Obama. They have a problem, however. There are no grounds for impeachment. Serving as president while black is not a crime, but that is their real motivation.

The Republican Party needs to seek out leaders like Washington, who enforced tax laws; Lincoln, who preserved the Union and freed the slaves; Teddy Roosevelt, who broke up the monopolies and established the National Parks; Hoover, who raised taxes on the rich and sponsored the great public works project that bears his name; Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System and let stand even higher tax rates on the rich or George H.W. Bush, who had the courage to raise taxes when the nation needed more revenue. All of them were Republicans except Washington, who didn't believe in political parties.

Joe Scarborough may be available.