15 hours ago
Sunday, April 03, 2016
I am all for the payment of taxes, by the way. This is not a whine about how eeevil the government is for taxing us. I like living in a place with roads that are paved, and water that is (often) clean, with decent schools and social safety nets.
In fact, I wouldn't mind if the taxes were higher, and the social benefits were better.
For instance: when we lived in Charlotte, NC, we had an amazing public library system, and amazing public parks. This was because the taxes were a bit higher.
But was it worth it? Absolutely. We almost never had to buy books in Charlotte -- the library always had whatever I was looking for, and when they didn't, they had an online form. I could request that they buy the book I wanted. The library would buy it. Then they would tell me -- via email -- that they had bought it, and that they were shipping it to my branch library so I could borrow it.
Compare that to the local library, which has the best librarians, and beautiful buildings, but almost no books. It's very rare that when I look for a book in their holdings that they own it. What does this mean for me, personally? Well, I've bought more books per year -- spent more of my own money -- than anywhere else I've ever lived.
And that's fine, you know. I have enough money to buy books, and what else would I spend it on? Shoes? (Bwahaha!)
But what about the huge population of Fort Smith that can't afford to buy books? That's most of this city, most of this county -- 15% of us live under the poverty line, and the median income here is 32,000/year. You don't buy many books when you're having trouble making rent. Nearly a quarter of our children live below the poverty line.
When I was a kid, we didn't have much money. But I did live in New Orleans, which had good libraries. (I also had a mother who would spend what little money she had on books.) If it hadn't been for my ready access to those libraries, I'm not sure I'd be a professor now.
Well, what about the children of Fort Smith? What are we doing for them? Saving a couple of bucks in taxes a year, at what cost?
I donate money to the local parks, and I donate books to the library. And if every citizen who had the means did the same -- donated freely, to every good and necessary civic cause, without being taxed -- then sure, who would need taxes?
But no, people won't do that. People never did, despite the revisionist history you sometimes hear anti-statists spinning. That's why we instituted taxes in the first place.
So this is not a whine about OMG I had to pay my TAXES.
This is a statement: I paid my taxes. Yeah, they were high. But if they were higher, this would be a better country, and the lives of everyone in it would be better.
That's a price I'm willing to pay.