Government can be taxing

PROTESTS against military spending are not new. But now the protesters march to a different - and slightly more relaxed - drummer. Instead of lying down on a cold, wet road in front of an Army truck carrying missile parts and driven by a hot-rod PFC, the new trend is to plop down on the sofa at home and not pay taxes. Not paying taxes will probably not result in ending the spending so much as extending federal borrowing - increasing the national debt. And guess who pays the interest on that debt?

In Wisconsin, people are on this don't-pay-taxes kick because they don't like the government spending their tax money on weapons. They hope others will follow suit. In retaliation, the government might consider putting them all in jail, but this makes for a dilemma. It immediately puts the protesters on the tax-receiving end, instead of the tax-paying end.

One possible way of settling this dispute is for President Reagan to write one of his nice-chatty letters, assuring them that their specific tax money, instead of going for military hardware, will go into a subsidy for the education of illegal aliens. Nothing could be more peaceful than that.

On the other hand, even this could be a problem. There might be families who didn't approve of spending their tax money to educate the families of border athletes. If this anti-illegal-alien group started withholding taxes - or if people only paid taxes for what they liked - the IRS would have to set up an awfully complicated filing system.

In fairness, we must concede that collecting taxes is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. We don't mean we are consumed with affection for the IRS. It hasn't done us any good turns lately. And its idea of a penalty for a mistake is so grossly out of proportion to the error made that even if the IRS turns out to be made up of people, it may still tend to have its fangs showing.

Solutions are hard to come by. Maybe honest taxpayers could get even with the people in Wisconsin and stop drinking milk and eating cheese.

Or maybe take a drastic step: like running the government on less money.

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