The Republicans want low taxes. Lower taxes. Lower! Lower! With quasi-religious fervor, they pledge never to raise them again. The Grand Master of the no-tax lodge, Mr. Norquist is already such a silly figure that even people in his own party have stopped taking him seriously.
Which is a shame, because he seems like a serious guy and an astute politician dedicated to the welfare of others. Most worryingly, he sits on the board of GOProud, the Republican's idea of being nice to queers. The problem is that low taxes and women's/LGBT rights don't go together. Here is why.
Population growth depends on one of two things: actually making babies, or letting strangers in. The U.S. has always relied on both, but both are now flagging. White and Asian couples already have low fertility rates, and with affluence, the large numbers of immigrants from conservative countries will follow suit. Every developed country in the world is heading for fertility rates at or below replacement level.
Women don't want to spend their entire lives being pregnant. They want jobs, freedom, and equality. They need the state to help with the rearing of the young. At the same time, we are celebrating success with LGBT rights. More and more U.S. states are recognizing gay marriage. The world -- the West at least -- is becoming an open and tolerant society in which women and gays can choose to shape their own lives as they wish.
That means even fewer children. Fewer children mean fewer taxpayers. Fewer taxpayers mean that every one of us has to carry a higher tax burden. We need taxes to create the hardware and software which maintains an open, tolerant society. We need taxes to support families of all types raising children. Taxes for day care centers that support working mothers, for medical services, for good schools that give the fewer children better jobs and thus higher incomes. Taxes must pay for our freedom to live the lives we want. Taxes must support women's equality and gay rights. There is no way out. Californians have shown that they are wise enough to vote for higher taxes.
There is no solution to the dilemma, and the Republicans' ideas of low taxes does not compound. You can only have low taxes in societies with very high birth rates. The Bible Belt will hold out, but enlightened population centers will not be able to support an open, tolerant society without public money.
Oh yes, wait, there is a solution: allowing more and more immigration, especially from countries with high birth rates and conservative attitudes, but apparently the Republicans aren't keen on that either.
The last elections were a step in the right direction. Some Republicans now understand that you can't have liberated women, LGBT rights, tolerance, etc. without higher taxes. That's why the Tea Party makes sense. If you are in favor of sending women back to the kitchen, gays to concentration camps, and keeping Mexicans in Mexico, then you can also argue for low taxes.
The real mystery is, although Mr.Norquist and his ilk seem like smart guys, why do they and so many others in the Republican Party not recognize the conundrum they are facing?
Marten Weber is the author of the biography of Casanova's gay brother and a series of books dealing with minority rights, social justice, and LGBT themes. www.martenweber.com.