Last Thursday, Tax Day, was a time for nationwide fulmination about government spending. But, as he relates in his weekly Centre Square essay, Chris Satullo dropped that tax return in the mail with a song in his heart.
Last Thursday, Tax Day, was a time for nationwide fulmination about government spending. But, as he relates in his weekly Centre Square essay, Chris Satullo dropped that tax return in the mail with a song in his heart.[audio: satullo20100418.mp3]
On Thursday, I did something I was proud to do.
I paid my federal income taxes.
I don’t regard taxation as theft. I view it as the dues we pay to have a decent society.
My taxes went to underwrite research into diseases that ravage families, to fuel overdue innovations in public schools.
My taxes went to train the troops that do the nasty, nearly forgotten work of containing fanaticism in Afghanistan.
More of my taxes, I hope, will soon go into regulating safety at places where greed has too long gone unchecked, like mines in West Virginia.
I’m proud that my taxes helped support a stimulus bill that clearly fended off a deeper depression, that is doing more to perk up the economy than the Cassandras of either left or right predicted.
Now, my taxes do fund a lot of things I don’t like – highways to nowhere, subsidies to agribusiness, faulty urban renewals.
I’d like to see such waste eliminated. But let’s not overstate how much of the overall pie waste represents. Most government spending does things most citizens want done. Hyping waste, and shutting your eyes to the real benefits that government brings (either to yourself or to others) has always been a bad habit of the adolescent mode in American politics.
This teenaged attitude – “get out of my life, government, but first drive me and my friends to the mall” – got a full public workout last Thursday, tax deadline day on the federal calendar, Tax Revolt Day on the Fox News program schedule.
On Thursday, the Tea Partiers gathered Thursday in red-white-and-blue splendor on the National Mall. (Gee, I wonder who built that marvelous space? Comcast?) They vented spleen at taxes and spending, but none, that I saw at least, burned their Social Security checks.
The Tea Partiers have reasons for their anger. The powerful in this land really have been allowed to screw the ordinary guy. But their message is incoherent.
The betrayals that fueled economic meltdown had mostly to with government doing too little, not too much. As disaster brewed, the cop on the Wall Street beat looked the other way.
Graft has always been bipartisan. But the ideas that drove our nation into the ditch of deficit and recession were mostly those of the no-tax, no-regulation conservatives, the same folks to whom the Tea Party now looks for leadership.
At the next Tea Party rally, someone should play that great old song by the Who: “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Because, right now, the Tea Partiers are getting played for patsies.