Instead, beginning with the New Deal, liberals promised both low individual tax burdens and economic security for the rising middle class. They also divorced what postwar liberalism did best — providing economic security and mobility to the majority of Americans — from the burden of taxation. Social Security’s chief architects sold it as a plan for “organized and intelligent thrift” funded by “contributions,” rather than by taxes. The recipients of veterans’ benefits, farm subsidies or tax breaks to buy a home, pay for health insurance or reduce college costs were, and continue to be, honored as “taxpayers.” Meanwhile, beneficiaries of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid were and are demeaned as parasitical “tax eaters” and “takers.”…

The U.S. Constitution promises to “insure domestic tranquility,” to “provide for the common defense” and to “promote the general welfare.” Taxes make these things possible. Taxes pay for the good roads, clean air and water, safe food and drugs, and strong military that Americans value. Taxes make it possible for businesses to thrive, for children to attend school and for hospitals to care for the sick. Tax dollars pay the salaries of firefighters and police officers. Taxes pay for the emergency workers, shelters and services needed when the nation is devastated by natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

So maybe the federal income tax should get a birthday party. It has, after all, given us civilization.