Paying our dues

Isn’t it strange how some words that mean similar things can sound very different when used? For instance, “dues” and “taxes.”

Dues are, of course, money paid to a club, organization, or church as required to support that worthy project. We accept their necessity. Why, then, are we so upset when we are requested to pay dues (taxes) to support this great club known as the United States of America, this democratic republic looked up to and emulated by many around the world? Why has the word “taxes” come to sound like a dirty word?

Taxes pay for those many things we expect from a cohesive, workable, prosperous community benefiting all. We should stand up and be proud to pay our dues, just as our youth are when they raise their hand, take that one step forward, and proudly commit to defend our liberty and theirs with lives and limbs. To shirk that obligation is considered tantamount to treason.

Yet we are encouraged to disparage, scorn, and loathe our obligation for paying the taxes that support our nation – not just its military, but its great highway system, bridges, and dams; its judiciary, Congress, the regulatory agencies that keep our food safe to eat and our water safe to drink; its transportation-safety systems, airports, Homeland Security; and on and on.

When there is a terrible flood, a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire, who do the states and communities turn to for aid? The federal government. Who gives out money through price supports, subsidies, and more to farmers to ensure that they can stay in business? Again, the federal government. And where does that money come from? Our taxes.

So how did this negativity arise? No one enjoys paying taxes, but we all get something in return. And taxes have to be mandatory; as with any group that makes a pledge there are always those who would never pay their dues otherwise.

Oddly enough, it is the very ones that have gained so much from this country’s bountiful raw materials and the hard labor of its masses that have inundated us with propaganda decrying this contribution. We are not yet the perfect nation we would like to be. We have some dark shadows in our past but are trying to overcome them. Still, we are far and away better with our freedoms than many other countries.

But the corporations and their CEOs and some of our elected officials have no qualms about demeaning this nation’s methods of financing its essential machinery. They employ all legal resources to not pay their fair share. They make statements that don’t hold water that THEY make or create the jobs. As far as I can see, it is We the People who do it, as consumers who create employment and the products sold by these businesses and corporations. No consumer workforce, no consumers with the means to purchase merchandise, no business.

Oh, the waste, you say, that’s what bothers you. Well, there is waste in every big business, yet few complain about that. The thing is to get rid of those that don’t invest wisely. This is up to the CEOs and We the People are the CEOs. We elect these wasters. We vote for these overpaid slackers, then forget to guide them, and leave it to the lobbyists.

Have you ever tried to contact a politician? You only get to converse with an aide. If they do hold a town meeting they come late, jump on the stage, give a fast rundown of what they are doing for that particular audience, and get out of there. Now, with a lobbyist, it is a sit-down, wine-and-steak-and bullshit session with some insider information given out as to stock-market investments. And we dolts keep electing these welfare recipients living off our dues.

We the Stupid People have elected a slew of incompetent politicians on the premise of reducing taxes. What is it we’re willing to give up? – education, health care, freeways, prisons, police forces, or a well-trained military with weaponry? All this costs money.

In the only real war we fought in my lifetime, World War II, the government had to sell war bonds, as the coffers were in need of cash. The oligarchy and corporations didn’t volunteer their services – a ship a day and plane a minute did not come cheap. And We the People stepped forward. When the war effort demanded more financing, We the People bought more bonds and the corporations that churned out the ships, planes and tanks made even larger profits.

We didn’t and still haven’t paid enough dues to care for those who came back from Vietnam to take them off the streets and care for their ills (shame on us!). We have now squandered a budget surplus and borrowed money from China to fight another oligarchy and corporate debacle. Yet a number of corporations are still profiting from it. Then they have the gall to not pay their dues. Halliburton, KBR, and others too numerous to mention – I won’t go into the overages and cons these corporations have charged us.

Yet everywhere you go, you hear politicians talking as if the only thing standing in the way of this country becoming great is the taxes we pay. That’s utterly nonsensical.

Just consider a discussion at a recent meeting of our local county commission: They were shocked to hear that funds had been cut in half for doing inspections to keep invasive mussels out of McPhee Reservoir (and all its connecting streams, canals, and pipes). They asked how this could be and were told, that’s what happens when people want to shrink the budget.

Pay attention, do some research and thinking, and be proud to pay taxes (which are, by the way, lower than in a lot of other industrialized democracies).

After all, it’s our military that pays with life and limb to keep us all safe and free. We just have to come up with some spare change.

Thought for the day: Without color there is no art.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.

From Galen Larson.