Yesterday, I had the opportunity to ask a question of (former) California senator Barbara Boxer in a public forum. What follows is a transcript of our exchange. (I recorded the audio with my phone, but it turned out poorly. Nevertheless, you can hear the exchange here: https://soundcloud.com/user-568960187/2017-05-10-0746a.)
Me: Senator Boxer, I’m Nick. I’m an engineer. The democrats have a huge push towards socialism with Bernie Sanders. A lot of bad situations are the result of bad decisions made by people. For example, many people lost their homes due to bad investments and the government came and bailed them out. Diabetes is often the result of lack of exercise and poor diet, and if the government is providing healthcare then that burden goes on the people. It’s being done with money taken in through taxes; that money comes in with the threat of force behind it. And so my question …
Senator Boxer: With what?
Me: With the threat of force.
Senator Boxer: What does that mean?
Me: So, if I don’t pay my taxes, men with guns show up, point them at me, and …
Senator Boxer: No they don’t. That’s ludicrous. Men with guns do not show up if you don’t pay your taxes. Where did you ever learn that?
Me: There was a couple in Boston not too long ago …
Senator Boxer: <inaudible>
Me: Yes it was.
Moderator: Let’s get to your question.
Me: My question to you is… Regardless, it’s paid with taxes that are taken by the government, mandated to be taken by the government. My question to you is, as a democratic senator, when are people responsible for their own decisions and when should the government impose the consequences of those decisions on society?
Senator Boxer: Ok, you’re questioning the entire constitution of the United States. And that’s fine, you could maybe write a better one. But I think it’s good. It’s not perfect. And also it’s very important that we understand that to have the government of and by for the people, which we have, which we got so many years ago and for protecting the constitution, you have to take what they said or leave it. For example, we have to pay for roads and bridges and highways. We have to pay for our veteran’s healthcare. If there’s a war, we have to pay. Besides horrible wars. I voted no on the Iraq war, both of the Iraq wars. I voted to go into Afghanistan after Bin Laden because I wanted felt it was critical to get him. So my votes are mostly no on war, but we need to pay for the things we want to have our government do. We have free education in our country. It’s very important. I’m a product of public schools, all the way through college. I didn’t even pay. I mean, my father, I remember him saying to me, I was in state University in New York, Brooklyn College, and my father said to me, “Honey, they just raised the tuition to $19 a semester. You’re getting expensive, sweetheart.” I mean, he would not believe what [not discernible]. So, the point is, it costs something to be free. It costs something to live in a society. And I think, if you want to rewrite the constitution, that’s all well and good. But it’s a big job. I wish you the best with that.
I would like to note that the picture of this article is of an armed IRS agent effecting a raid on a civilian who purportedly did not pay his taxes . Citation  is a page on the website of the Criminal Investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service where they boast “Criminal Investigation’s conviction rate is one of the highest in federal law enforcement.” Finally, I’d like to note that I didn’t say that it is wrong to force people to pay taxes; instead, I was asking her when she felt that it is appropriate to do so.
 “Feds raid mayor’s business.” http://keysnews.com/node/35643