Give Unto Caesar

So this week was unusual for me. I had the opportunity to exercise three of the major civic duties all in one week: serving jury duty, voting, and paying taxes.

I’m curious how the groupthink approaches these. For instance, many people despise jury duty and jokes such as “why would you want to be judged by 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty?” abound. Alas, many people also don’t bother voting if their key issue or favorite candidate isn’t on the ballot (or vote only on that issue and leave the rest blank). Finally, many people jump through crazy hoops to shave a few bucks off their taxes (itemizing questionable deductions, hiring shady CPAs, exaggerating “self employed” expenses, etc).

What say you, QT3? Do you approach these things more or less genuinely and straightforward, or do you try to avoid and minimizing these obligations in potentially questionable ways?

I don’t look for any shady ways to reduce my taxes, but I do take any deduction to which I am legitimately entitled. I research the ballot before I vote. I show up for jury duty whenever I am called, but one side or the other always exercises a peremptory challenge on me. I forget exactly, I think I’m about 0-10 on jury service now.

Taxes: Usually file simple returns, not too worried about a few hundred dollars either way. Plus, I live a rather simple life so there aren’t many deductions for me to take advantage of.

Jury Duty: I was called once and my employer felt it would be a hardship so they wrote a letter to excuse me. Haven’t been called since (that was about 8 years ago.)

Voting: I try and make sure I know the issues and candidates. I vote in the major elections, but often skip the smaller ones.

I wish I’d get called for jury duty now that I finally have a job that’ll pay me a full wage while I’m doing it. I think it’d be fascinating.

…plus, you get to play God. :)

Jury duty sucks. I’ve been called up twice, and every time I have to share the jury box with people who get on their moralistic high horse. And as soon as I start talking to them and poking holes in their stupid little ideas, they give me a look of death and just refuse to talk any more.

Honestly, it was my experience serving on juries (once here in Washington, once in California) that convinced me that our judicial system is completely fucked. I met the faces of justice, and they were drooling.

Taxes & voting, on the other hand, are both useful civic duties.

On taxes, like Supertanker, I take what deductions I’m entitled to and pay the rest.

I served on a jury last year for a week-long child abuse and neglect case. I was railroaded into being foreman, actually. Nobody in the pool of maybe 30 people tried to get out of it for any reason, and the judge offered the opportunity.

Everyone in deliberations took the evidence and applying the law very seriously. Nobody complained about serving, although I’m sure everyone had places they’d rather be.

On voting, civic duty and all of that, but if I’m not informed about any of the candidates (this mostly applies to non-partisan elections), I won’t vote. This hasn’t happened recently, but I have skipped some Spring elections in the past.

would do jury duty, pay as little tax as possible without fiddling the accounts but don’t vote.
I voted once when I was 18 and have never done so since. I always seem to end up in a safe constituency for a party I don’t like; which is all of them. the idea of voting in a party that can then do what it wants for 4+ years doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me. I don’t want a referendum on everything but there should a happy middle ground somewhere especially now we’ve 3 parties all basically promsing the same thing.

If I can keep you from voting, it’s like I get to vote twice!

Well, I only vote when:

a) I give a damn about any of the candidates
b) My vote may possibly make some slight difference

This doesn’t happen a whole heck of a lot, but it has happened from time to time in the past.

I’ve never been selected for a jury, and have only been called 4 times in my life (not counting the dozens of times that New York tried to call me after I left the state, refusing to acknowledge any of my documents showing I’d moved; but I think they’ve finally given up). So I have no bad experiences as a juror, and don’t evade the duty. So far my average is 2 hours before being dismissed, and only once did I actually enter the courtroom in which the trial was to prospectively take place.

As for taxes, they’re so low in this country compared to other civilized nations, it really feels like stealing to cheat on them. I admit I hate, despise, contemn the current administration, but even so, I have no intention of evading.

I always show up when called for Jury Duty, but they dismiss me. I honestly tell the prosecutor I can’t vote guilty to a non violent crime, such as drugs. Ever. No circumstance would allow my conscious to do so, no matter what the law says.

Ooooo I’m sorry, the answer on the card is “If you don’t feel represented by any of the existing parties why dont you stand on your own manifesto?”

I live in a safe Tory seat which means I can protest vote for the Lib Dems at best, the wacky parties don’t stand here. I do religiously register to vote and when they add a specific “I could be voting but I choose not to” option rather than just lumping me with people who can’t figure out how to put an “X” in a box with a pencil then I’ll turn up.

So you can’t vote for the slightly silly party? That’s a shame.

If you think most jurors are jackasses, that is all the more reason for you to be one, which is what makes it a civic duty, not just a legal requirement. I don’t want to serve on a jury, per se, since it is a hassle, but I wouldn’t lie or exaggerate the truth to get out of it once there. I also don’t want to pay taxes, really, but I know it is good for me and the rest of the country, so I don’t attempt to cheat it. I vote when there are candidates I support in races that are close (or proportional, like the primaries).

Like, any nonviolent crime? Or do you mean only drug-related nonviolent crime?

He probably meant victimless crime. Euri’s not a dumb guy.

Me, I’m about to start actively finding a way to cheat taxes until such a time as the government gives me detailed reports about exactly where my dollars are going, and then give me an option to control where my dollars go. Not how much I pay, mind you. Just where it gets directed.

I was summoned for jury duty once, but I was out of the province, so my mother took care of things (happened when I was in college).

As for voting, I believe that if you care about politics at all, you must involve yourself with the process, even if you don’t like your options. At the very least, you go to the polling station and invalidate your vote.

Any crime where there is no victim. If I steal from you, I’ve done violence to you via my theft. If I get high in my living room or sell my ass for money I’ve done no harm to anyone. Functionally this would just be a no vote to both drugs and prostitution, which is a good deal of what passes through the court systems of suburban/semi-rural counties.

IMO your first requirement is reasonable, but the second is not.

Not only is it fiscally and administratively impracticable for anyone to manage your money that way (for your first requirement, the answer would be “tracking expenses” for 90% of your taxes), but it’s unreasonable for you to say send all your money to the space administration, and still get the benefit of protection from the mounties…

Similarly it’s unreasonable in a representative democracy for you to choose not to fund some entitlements program if the majority has (albeit indirectly) requested the government to fund it. Even in an Athenian direct democracy, if the majority votes for something you have to abide by their decision, so directing your taxes only to programs of which you approve is just not on in a democracy.

Edit: heh, I can see the phrase “the benefit of protection from the mounties” can be interpreted several different ways :) But whatever, all I have to worry about is the FBI, the NSA, DHS, etc. etc. etc.

Well, you could get the option to vote on funding the different programs (and perhaps the ability to pay optional taxes directed solely at them), with only those programs that received a majority of the vote actually getting funded. I don’t think that’s actually a good system (except the optional taxes part), since I, like America’s founding fathers, don’t actually trust the people to be informed enough to make the detailed decisions that are best for themselves or the country.

I have no real objection to establishing a routine and reliable way to send additional extra funds to selected government departments and programs, but I can imagine a problem with the idea, that could be managed, but still…

Imagine you can send money to say, a fusion research program to be managed by DARPA or the energy department. That program let us say normally gets $50,000,000 a year. But to everyone’s surprise, it gets $25,000,000 in extra optional taxes for a couple of years in a row.

Guess what happens in a thoroughly Dilberted budget process? Yep, the budget gets cut by $25,000,000. The alternative is they hire $20,000,000 in additional bureaucrats to make some undersecretary’s portfolio a bit bigger, and find a way to use $5,000,000 on secret CIA torture projects…

But perhaps I am overly cynical.

Well, I have no doubt that the federal budget would take into account the extra funding generated by tax payers choosing certain things to fund. However, that would still end up giving tax payers direct control over a portion of the federal budget, including how big that budget is.

Since it would need to specify specific government programs/agencies to receive the funding, there would also be wrangling over which programs get included, and whether there’s a standard extra funding size per tax bracket, or just an open-ended “give what you want”, and whether there is any incentive to doing so beyond a say in where your money is spent, etc. Even with all that, it would be nice, and would potentially allow the general tax levels to be brought down a little, while giving people a much better sense of why it is they pay taxes.

Last time I was chosen for jury duty, it was a drug dealing charge. During screening, I mentioned that I thought the war on drugs was a joke, which was my honest opinion, and I was dismissed by the prosecution. An easy out, I guess, except that didn’t fake anything. Just gave a little too much information, perhaps.