This budget horror-show has given us a lot to think about. The role of taxes in our country is probably the biggest, sorest issue of them all right now.
"Why should we pay taxes? That money is ours – we earned it!"I heard this from a member of the armed services who's quite intelligent.
Out of respect and consideration for my impassioned, but perhaps distracted, old friend, I wanted to find a non-partisan, preferably non-political way to discuss the point of taxation. So let's simply see how that money gets used in real life.
Everything in bold-face type is heavily subsidized or completely funded by government money – local or federal, for better or worse. Do any of these tax-funded things affect you?
I take pain medicine which was funded by government grants to develop. My treatment was developed by government grantees. It keeps me alive and functional, so I can write things like this. Is that a good use of taxpayer dollars (printed at the Mint and monitored at the Federal Reserve)?
Read on and let's all decide.
My nephews go to school by bus, when their mother can't take them. She has just received her teaching credentials, so she will soon be working as a teacher. Their father, my brother, is a Marine. He runs a base where he supervises the training of National Reservists of the Army, Marines, and Air Force. He recently visited a friend in the VA hospital. All of his children were born in military hospitals.
Since they all run on a tight schedule, they use their car a lot. It uses gasoline; they used to have one that ran on diesel; the next one may be an electric hybrid. To cover short distances, they use local roads. To cover long distances, they use highways. They're careful of road crews, and drive sensibly over bridges and through tunnels (I hope.) Me, I mostly use the bus and train.
My brother and his wife pull over to make room for fire trucks, police cars and ambulances. (Many ambulance systems have been privatized; however, they still work on the basis of city or county contracts that are funded by taxes.)
They eat on the healthy side of a normal American diet. With three growing boys in the house, they eat plenty of wheat and corn-based products, such as bread for sandwiches, cereal, pasta, and so on. They're allowed occasional treats, including candy and soda sweetened with corn or cane sugar. I bet they get their beef from the grocery store, so you know it was raised on soy and corn, and was probably fed antibiotics. Those boys are pure dynamite anyway.
My dear old friend David used to work at the library. He still volunteers there. His pension keeps him in a simple but comfortable style of life. He likes to attend church, though most of his real friends are out and about on the city sidewalks. He keeps in touch with a friend who has been in the mental hospital, and their conversations help her stay on track.
When my Dad died suddenly, I attended support groups at the local Hospice. I used to be a nurse, working in hospitals and home care. In the ER we took care of prison inmates when they got hurt.
I ran out of work at one point and wound up on food stamps and welfare. I will never forget that they kept me alive until I could find work again. Since then, I haven't really minded paying my fair share of taxes.
During the last election cycle, I saw an angry woman on TV waving a sign that read, "Get your government hands off my Medicare!" I hope she understands things better now.
This has given me a lot to think about.
And, fellow bloggers, here's an invitation/challenge: how much better can you write on this theme? How much do you really know about government support for the things you use every single day that make your life do-able? How does this pertain to your work, paycheck, interests, family – whatever really matters?
I'd love it if you'd share links here and let me know.