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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Taxes to Beat the Axis"

Once upon a time in America, the American government actually made an effort to explain to the people why it was necessary to pay higher taxes.

I came across this short film while I was researching another topic and I thought immediately that it was pertinent to our discussion about taxation.  During World War II,  the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury asked Walt Disney to make a film that explained to the American people why it was important that they file and pay their income taxes.  Even in that era they were disinclined to do so and so a case had to be made to nudge people in the right direction.  Paying taxes was tied directly to the war effort; the appeal was to patriotism and the future of the nation, "Freedom from fear and from want."

Fast forward to 2012 (70 years later) and the nation is experiencing neither of those freedoms.  Even more interesting is how this kind of discussion about financing the national defense has been sorely lacking in  recent years.  In the run up to the Iraq war for example the American people were assured that it could be done "on the cheap" and that no new taxes would be necessary.  No, it was even worse than that since the government at the time actually lowered taxes which most folks today see as a big mistake.

Now the bill has come due, it is much higher than expected/promised and the squabbling is over who is going to pick up the tab and the interest on the tab.  Alas, the tone of the national debate reminds one of the old saying, "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!"

I can already anticipate some of the arguments against this Disney film:  propaganda (well, yes) and  too simplistic and old-fashioned (do you really think voters today are more sophisticated than their forefathers? The ones you see with the signs that say, "Keep your government hands off my Medicare?")  Maybe.  But I think it has the merit of being extremely clear.  On one side are the taxes and, on the other, their purpose.  And if the government must ask for more in support of a national project, than it explains why in language everyone can understand.  Plus, I'm a big fan of the Duck.  Enjoy.


Tim said...

One thing I will say about modern day Canada is the government and its agencies spend more money promotional videos and marketing/branding than just about any other country in the world. Below is just a small selection:

Passport Canada:

Bank of Canada:

Nav Canada(the quasi private Air Traffic Control System)

And even provincial governments have gotten into the act:

Wow, I never thought I could feel that emotional about ServiceOntario LOL. One thing I will say it these government adds are not cheap to say the least. At some level this guys back to Trudeau and Quebec Nationalism when there used to be a special department of the Privy Council that would look through all of the government agencies to see if they were using the Canada Wordmark correctly. Under Stephen Harper government advertising seem to be taken to a new extreme.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Tim, Just for fun I went on youtube and looked for IRS videos for Americans and Green Card holders living abroad. I didn't find a darn thing even when I broadened it to things like "Foreign Income."

I liked the Canadian videos which were clear and informative. Yes, there was a fair amount of "pub" but, hey, why not? :-)

Shirl said...

Ah, but to have the U.S. debate on spending in the year 2012 be as clear as the Disney video. That was just hilarious! Thanks for sharing. I love the duck too.
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Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Shirl, Yep, the debate is as clear as mud right now. I don't know who to believe. I think I need to go back and read Mencken's words about politicians again just to clear my brain. Hope you're having fun in Ireland!