I started our taxes, but it will take a while for me to finish. We’ll break even, or owe a little, which is about what happened last year. Given the current debate in the Republican Party over the amount of taxes paid (I suppose I should say NOT paid) by the very wealthy, I wondered about my own relationship to the taxes I pay. Whenever I hear about some wealthy non-producing member of society paying less than I do in taxes, I am infuriated, but not because I don’t want to pay taxes. Rather, I think everyone needs to realize how much the wealthy and affluent benefit from taxes, when they pay them.
What benefits do we enjoy because of taxes?
We all enjoy the right to free public schools.
We all enjoy the fact that schools are open to all.
We have many well maintained roads to travel upon, bridges to cross, and train crossings to protect us.
We visit parks, climb mountains, take hikes, spend time at the beach, view public art, check books out of public libraries, visit public pools, and cross streets safely with our children because of crossing guards.
We get taken by ambulance to the hospital if we have an emergency.
We have fire protection. We have police protection.
We enjoy air travel, train travel, and boat travel safely.
We buy goods that are produced in various locations, and are transported to us using well-maintained roads.
There are certainly more benefits — for example, the regulations that assures us that nurses and doctors are well-trained, the food safety and car safety regulations, among others.
Whatever happened to the notion that we are supposed to ask ourselves what we can do for the people of our country? Our government, despite its bureaucracy and in spite of the dead-weight Republicans who refuse to remedy any of the pressing concerns of the American people, actually does pretty well when it comes to supporting us. It can do better, and it should protect those who are most in need–by increasing minimum wage, giving everyone access to health care, providing food assistance for those in need. Even now, even when I am doing my taxes, and looking at what we might owe, I know I’d be willing to pay more taxes if my taxes could help curb hunger, provide health care for someone in need, or provide books at a public school. Why can’t the Mitt Romneys of the country learn how important it is to pay their fair share?
A quick search of tax rates illustrates the gross inequities in our American system. Our tax code is regressive, and with sales tax hitting hardest at those who earn the least, grossly unjust. Corporate tax rates in the US vary (according to Wikipedia) from 0-12%, while corporate tax rates in France, Germany, Sweden, and other European countries averages 25%.
Ralph Nader, in an interview with Democracy Now, noted,”The Citizens for Tax Justice put out a report recently. They had 12 major corporations, like Honeywell, Verizon, General Electric, and in three years, they made $167 billion in profit, paid zero tax, and got $2.5 billion back from the Treasury.” I am certainly willing to pay my fair share, but I am eagerly awaiting the day when corporations pay theirs. Perhaps then we’ll be on the road to economic justice.