I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately related to the recent tax bill. The posts center around that idea that everyone should go back to a barter system so that nothing is taxed. This is usually supported with the following statement, “If we all barter for goods and services, it’s free.” I see similar posts centered around growing your own food, it’s free!(That’s a post for another time, but a compatible argument)
The absurdity of this statement cannot be understated. 1st – Bartering in the United States is taxable, so even then, the .Gov gets its shekels. 2nd- Money is, at it’s basest level is a representation of time. Time = Money. When you barter something, you’re still trading your time- time to gather materials, to fashion a product, whether it’s by trade or agriculture or a product of your education, such as surgery or IT work and trade it for something else that you want. The flaw in the above posts, of course, is that whoever has something you want may have no need of what you offer. Or they may not place the same value on their time and efforts that you do. How many original comic books produced by you does the dentist want for fixing your cavity? By using the coin of the realm as the medium of exchange we enable a far more flexible and efficient economy.
This is pretty obvious when you spend a moment on the problem, but it is remarkable how many people choose to ignore it in favor of maintaining their political or philosophical position. I have friends, anyone from regular Joes & Janes that oppose the idea of taxation, to highly educated conservatives and hippy commune loving liberals to Constitutionalists and Libertarians. They may have different reasons for supporting the above silliness, but all of them ignore the same basic flaw.
Most of us want more money for ourselves, and to feel that we’re rewarded for the work we do without having to give so much of it away, however much that amount may be. With that said, a bad argument rooted in disinformation is worse than the honest truth. Keep it honest, people, it will serve you better.