The money you pay in taxes goes towards funding the activities that the government has to undertake to meet its side of the social contract, to maintain the roads as well as keep the water pumping to your taps. File Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
The money you pay in taxes goes towards funding the activities that the government has to undertake to meet its side of the social contract, to maintain the roads as well as keep the water pumping to your taps. File Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA – What does a car need to move? Well, other than the driver and operator it goes without saying that the internal combustion engine does not function under any circumstances if fuel tank is empty.

Our country works pretty much the same way. It needs fuel to start and keep the wheels turning.   Without it, everything will grind to a halt, much as one of your most prized possessions grinds to a halt when the fuel gauge shows empty – without the taxes due to the state, the machinery of state will come to a halt.

We all listen intently to the budget, most of us listen to hear how much of our hard-earned money we have to pay to the state, and it’s a grudge purchase. You get up to go to work, spend most of your adult life toiling to earn money to get by, and then you have to pay some of that money to the state.

You have to “give Caesar, what is due to Caesar”. We cannot argue that point away. Imagine waking up, and there are no roads, no water, no power, no police officers at intersections, no traffic police, no trains. 

The money you pay in taxes goes towards funding the activities that the government has to undertake to meet its side of the social contract, to maintain the roads in a working order, to keep the water pumping to your taps, and the electricity flowing to your wall plugs and light switches.

Collecting grain

In our far-away history, grain was collected to place in the grain stores, that in the times of drought there would be some food to eat, that too was a form of taxation. We are not farmers, and we do not have grain, if the government did not collect taxes would we all be willing to work in the public service for half the month to make use our unique skills? 

So I guess its either your grain, your money or you. Now seeing it that way, money is a much less invasive way of keeping our country in a working order, besides not all of us can fix an internal combustion engine, and there are some real questions to be asked about the driving skills of some of the drivers.

It's our fundamental right to elect the government. This elected government takes the taxes and has to deploy it to keep the less fortunate fed, to provide for the elderly, to look after the orphans, to provide medical care to those that cannot afford it. Could it be correct to say that we entrust the government take care of our social responsibility, and free up our time to toil and spend time with our families?

From where most of us are sitting, our internal combustion engine has its niggles. There are dents, flat tires and the occasional jerking as we release the clutch a little fast.

There are some inconsiderate drivers on the roads, and there are a lot of passengers that do not pay their way. There are the external evaluators that will always want to give us less for our cars when we want to sell them, and oh boy when we want to buy one the prices brings tears to our eyes.

Our car has to be maintained for it to remain in a running condition, bald tires, buckled rims and all. We are the Brent Crude oil. And like fossils are compressed to the extent that they are liquefied so to do we feel the fiscal pressure.

Some of us have a higher octane level, but we all have to contribute none the less, and yes some fossils do turn into gas, and some are at best just hot air.

Willem Oberholzer is an executive director at Probity Advisory.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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