Thursday, April 19, 2012

Personal Responsibility

I know, the phrase is frequently used by right wingnuts as code for decrying the choices of others, but sometimes its used so appropriately. Or in this instance, as a good example or rationalization.

On Monday a 22 year old was killed when the car in which she was a passenger was slammed into by a guy who was fleeing the police. Police had tried to pull him over only 5 blocks before the site of the loss. The officer followed Baltimore City Police protocol and radioed in to his superiors for a decision on whether to continue the pursuit, but before an answer could be given the accident happened because the fleeing suspect ran a red light.

The dead woman's name was Jordasha Rollins. When reporters visited the scene of the loss the next day, family members were putting up the now trite memorial display of flowers and such. The report got the following statement from a family member.

“Thanks to Baltimore’s finest, my niece is gone,” said Rollins’ aunt, Lee Avery, 38. Of the suspect driver, who grew up in their neighborhood, she said: “We know it was an accident — we know he didn’t mean it.”

This is a fine bit of rational thought failure of epic proportions. An epic fail, as my kids like to say. To the aunt it's not the fault of the person who was driving erratically, fled the police when they legitimately tried to pull him over, and ran a red light. No. It's the fault of the police because they tried to do their job and enforce the law. Brilliant.

Of course, by implication, this aunt thinks that Baltimore City Police killed her neice on purpose, too. After all, the suspect didn't meant it. It was just an accident. Therefore, the actions of the police must have been intended to lead to the death, if not of her neice of someone else.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with this week's subject of taxes? Well, it's much like the rationale of the GOP. Taxes, like the police to this aunt, are evil. They are a deprivation of the common man, be it life or livelihood. There is no (well, other than for the military) justification for taxes.

The thing is, taxes are a uniting force. They're our contribution to the function of the society as a group. Some of us do more to contribute, via charities or working directly with those in need, but most of us pay taxes and that's about the extent of our contribution to the greater society. It's important that our contributions aren't onerous and are distributed among us fairly, and what's fair is obviously open to much debate, but they serve a very important function in keeping society alive and well.

When you view taxes as a third rail, evil sort of thing like police out to kill your relatives, you're withdrawing from society as a whole. That there's a major political party in the US and about 40% of the electorate who agree with it is a significant sign of decay and illness in the society.

Then again, maybe the aunt of the dead woman just thinks that the city has deeper pockets to pursue than the mook from her neighborhood. So, maybe the GOP doesn't really oppose taxes but just wants to hide its true motivation. Unfortunately, in the case of the GOP, its true motive seems to be the dismantling of government that isn't part of the military.

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