December 2004

What’s the matter with paying our share?

By Galen Larson

Taxes, taxes, taxes – how we protest them! We hire experts to help evade them, and elect politicians who say they’re going to cut them without cutting any of the benefits they provide.

Without taxes we would have no roads or highways to carry the trucks that bring us our food, clothing, appliances and fuel. Without taxes we would have no schools, and the children of the poor would go uneducated. We wouldn’t have gotten to the moon or explored space.

We wouldn’t have a sewer system – and believe me, we wouldn’t enjoy that. I grew up with the thunder mug under the bed and bathed twice a week in a galvanized tub. It was with great joy that we finally hooked up to the WPA tax-funded county water and sewer system.

Without taxes there would be no public lands, and only the rich would be able to experience wild and tranquil places.

What would we do with the thugs and murderers without our tax-funded prison system, to say nothing of the police officers protecting us from each other? We would not be the great nation we are today if we didn’t have our military, if history serves me right. Are we all supposed to grab our muskets, meet at the corner and defend our women and children against foreign threats? Don’t make me laugh.

George Washington invoked a tax to pay for his ragtag army so we could become a nation. Without that tax, we might still be under British rule.

By turning on a tap we are assured of clean water, brought to us by a tax-funded government entity and monitored by another government agency. Isn’t that better than walking miles, as in some Third World countries, to get a few precious drops of polluted water from some dried-up well?

Taxes provide many jobs – not only for politicians and government employees, but for private construction firms and all the workers whose companies get start-up grants or other government assistance. Taxes provide housing for the poor, health care for the elderly, research for the prevention and treatment of diseases.

I’d like to see those politicians that spout the hypocrisy of tax cuts volunteer to give up the wages and perks afforded them by our taxes. Let them work out of their homes instead of big government buildings and get by without hiring their friends and relations. (I’ll bet that would make for smaller government – but we wouldn’t get much accomplished.)

The real problem with taxes is not how much we pay but how they are spent. We subsidize the airlines but they keep going bankrupt. (Do you think the top echelon’s salaries and perks have anything to do with it?) We spend countless billions in Iraq yet shortchange our own people.

Many giant corporations, such as Wal- Mart, get millions in tax breaks. Then they brag about how much sales tax they provide to the local economy. Well, that doesn’t come out of their pockets but ours. Yet they think we should revere them because they are rich.

The problem isn’t taxes themselves, it’s the people we elect. We have to choose leaders who will rein in corporate welfare, not provide for more of it. We tell everyone how proud we are of this great country, yet balk at supporting it. What hypocrites! This is the land of the free, not the free ride. We should be proud to pay taxes; we should be angry when corporations don’t pay them, yet feed at the trough. I am happy to pay my share. I don’t want my taxes back. I want good schools, good roads, good hospitals, good health care for all, clean air and clean water.

So the next time a politicians tells you he will give you a tax break, think twice. Don’t be fooled by the gift of a lollipop while they run off with the candy store.

Galen Larson is a rural landowner in Montezuma County.