Taxes are how you lose points, federal spending is how you gain points.
Okay money is points in a game we all play called the economy. Following me so far?
How do you get points? When the federal government spends money. How do you lose points? When you pay taxes.
As part of the game, anyone can give some of their points to anyone else. We give away our points to get the things we need, and other people produce those things so they in turn can earn points.
You may ask, why is the federal government in charge of the points? Why are they the only ones who can create and destroy points?
This happens because the federal government is the highest political authority. All other contracts and agreements are created in the general context defined by federal government. The federal government creates an enviroment of rule of law: conventions that we all agree to live by to get along with each other.
Also important, the federal government has the greatest taxation authority.
As a thought experiment, imagine a bunch of people on a soccer field. They know nothing about soccer. They can do anything they want: grow gardens, have sex, fight wars, throw rock concerts, dance in a circle holding hands, or simply sit their and meditate.
What led these people in a field to develop soccer?
Okay, maybe that’s not how soccer was developed, but when you think about it, games are strange things.
A bunch of people agree to behave in a very specific, peculiar way. To an extraterrestrial alien watching a soccer game the first time, the behavior would be inexplicable.
“What are those organisms doing with that bouncy sphere? Sometimes they chase it as fast as they can, only to kick it away from themselves. They then kick it between themselves in a strange pattern involving half the organisms, apparently going nowhere.”
If the alien was lucky he might get to see a goal, and then be very confused:
“They seem to have succeeded in their objective. Why in the universe are they starting over again?”
As humans there a bajigillion ways we could behave. The games we invent demonstrate this.
When children play we see how these games emerge.
It’s part of the social process of being human.
Some people are leaders, some are followers, some are thinkers, some are doers, some are dancers, some are talkers.
It’s truly amazing to watch all these people interact.
In these interactions we see rules start to form.
As a child, I was definitely one of those kids who liked talking about the rules and what everybody should be doing.
Some people are like that. That’s fine.
Overtime the rules become less arbitrary and start to reflect the essence of the group. The rules and the group define each other.
As humans, we need resources to survive. It is this aspect of life that make our rules more than an arbitrary game.
The rules we create affect whether we will have competition and conflict or creativity and cooperation. Obviously, this is a simplification.
Why is the federal government a good idea?
That, my friend, is the right question.
I can’t answer that question for you!
You have to look at history and what you know. You have to ask questions and look for answers. You can’t be afraid to consider unusual possibilities.
If I were to give an answer I would say this:
There is no government, except people governing themselves. “It’s the people doing it! Amazing!”
Government is a channel that can represent all of us. We are all invited to participate. We may complain that the game is large and messy, or that we never get passed the ball, but the field is open to anyone who feels like taking a break from picking dandelions to learn an amazing and important game.
In a soccer game, the referee basically does nothing to directly make events happen. The rules as well are not directly controlling the actions of the players. The rules are descriptions of behavior which the players conform to.
Government is not some mythological creature wrestling with humanity. Government is something people participate in. Different people may play different roles, but they perform their roles mostly willingly.
Why should we perform these roles? Why should we act out this play? Why should we be part of this game???
“Life and resources” is the best answer I can give.
The scorekeeping of accounting has many nuances to it. But to deny the central role of central government is a recipe for confusion. Denying the independence and freedom of individuals would also be dumb.
Freedom does not happen without context. This is one reason government is important.
If accounting is points in a game, why is it more than arbitrary? If government is a creation of humanity, why is it completely necessary? Perhaps it is a good thing but not essential to existence, like the game of soccer?
How dare you suggest a universe without soccer! I won’t live for it!
Life and government are not opt-in. We are born into this context. We can try to deny it or ignore it or avoid it. It is a part of who we are.
You can’t not participate in a social order, it’s just either performed deliberately or chaotically.
The federal government is a good idea. The rules we create for scorekeeping can help us manage our resources effectively. Ownership does not exist without government. This doesn’t mean the government owns everything, just that none of us can own anything without a public.
Certainly the federal government is not the only scorekeeper. It is only the universal scorekeeper within its scope of domestic sovereignty, because everyone must pay taxes, because we all have to get along together. Valar dohaeris, Valar morghulis: death and taxes.
Federal governments are the highest level of governments with coherent organization, stable tradition, which seek universality in the rules and context which they create for the public.
Taxation and public spending: points. Contract enforcement and regulation: rules the referee enforces. Bad sports analogies: ruining this essay.
These are hard ideas to grappel with. I hope this helped.