Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thoughts On Taxes...Memorial Day Weekend, 2012

What about the concept of 'being glad to chip in' on the grand project of keeping a country we love going? What about being thrilled to see bridges being built(like we feel when we replace an old roof on our private property), having good fire, police and military and seeing every day basic human needs of the poorest being met with their dignity in tact? Weren't we proud of our interstate highway system, our hydroelectric power projects, recreational areas, national parks, Going to the moon? I recently rode Amtrak to see my children along with other lower and middle class folks doing the same? Why do some resent that happening and want to shut it down?
Why not be glad to see excellent schools and investments into higher education for fellow citizens who then make greater contributions to the community than they could ever do on their own? Why not be thrilled to really give a solid hand up to returning veterans? Our country has a history of doing great things with tax money that benefit all and especially those who do not have the accumulated wealth to do it on their own--which is most of us. I was able to make a living for a family of five as a science teacher due to a personal Government Grant to study science at Arizona State U.

 I do try to highly raise a voice of protest when my contributions are used to wage unnecessary wars of political self interest but I understand that is the cost of being part of a representative public experiment. I'd hate to feel stingy and cheated about paying my fair and needed share, and yet still have a private life of luxury compared to much of the world; instead of being glad to be a part of this grand Community Project of free and dreaming people. I think the spirit of the right and privilege of paying taxes has been lost by far too many people. Our youth have been sacrificed on wars' alters in order for us to be invited to participate in the joint effort called America, where one of the central themes is that we do look out for each other and give a strong dependable hand-up where needed and find grand projects to dream and build with our communal gifts we call taxes.

If we had such lofty meanings attached to  paying taxes we would have an equally strong expectation that our representatives are charged with the efficient, good for all, deployment of all taxes received. Our negative view and resentment of taxes these days has  no doubt generated a very low expectation of what the country is to gain from  their responsible dispersal. Surely we would also regain that  exciting  moral  expectation that the more one has been personally enriched by the opportunities of America  the more one will be glad to 'chip in' to her future; always  trusting no one will ever regret giving a larger share, for  it truly does not reduce the  amazing quality of human life so many enjoy in America.

How would it be if we could think more like this about the meaning of our taxes on Memorial Day?   Instead of unseemly complaining that I want to 'keep everything I earn', as if we really had rather than realizing  many of us Americans are the recipients of a profound historical  grace and unearned opportunity far more than most of us have 'earned' anything?  The quality of a genuinely  'good life' never is made possible by  responsible  work and rugged individualism alone. There is always something far more we have been 'given.'

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