"Paying taxes can make citizens happy," Ulrich Mayr, a professor of psychology, said in a release accompanying the study in the Friday issue of Science.
"People are, to varying degrees, pure altruists. On top of that, they like that warm glow they get from charitable giving. Until now, we couldn't trace that in the brain."
There is a whole helluva lot of difference between "charitable giving" - people voluntarily deciding to give up some of their hard earned money for a cause that needs it - and the involuntary and frequently excessive amount of tax that many in our "free world" have to pay.
I think it is rather premature for this researcher to conclude that "Paying taxes can make citizens happy." That type of talk only reinforces the views of some that somehow it's ok for the government to levy taxes for this cause or for that.
Now I'm no social scientist, but I am an engineer, and I know a thing or two about testing and statistics, and already I can tell you that this paragraph pretty much sums up why this study was so ridiculously flawed:
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, the researchers observed the brain activity of 19 women who were given a balance of $100 each. The researchers created the effect of taxation by making mandatory withdrawals from their account. The withdrawn money was actually sent to a food bank's account.
First of all the sample size was 19 women. The margin of error on a study like this is so large one wonders why anyone would bother to publish results like this. Secondly the end recipient of this money was a charity. The government is no charity.
If I was told my tax moneys were going to the Missionaries of Charity I would relax a fair bit myself.
If the study had that money going to a bunch of greedy lawyers that use jets to go from Hamilton to Toronto, increase their wages at will, drive the economy into the ground, regulate everything, social engineer our moral values, and then turn around and retire to a gold plated pension plan I'm thinking it would activate a slightly different area of the brain: the rage center.
But there's one more thing these researchers failed to take into account: just how much money is the tax?
If I were taxed 1% of my wages I wouldn't feel it so much. But when I'm taxed so much that it almost becomes more advantageous for me not to get a raise...
The authors noted, however, that the results may have differed if people had been presented with a tax that seemed less fair or benevolent.
You can say that again.