Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Paying Taxes

From Thomas Friedman's column today:

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

So in her and her husband's version of 'middle class', you know, the one where she gets to bill the state a travel per diem for nights she home, paying taxes is unpatriotic.

I'm not a Friedman fan, but I love his response-how will body armor for her son be paid for? In fact, how will the paycheck her son will receive for serving be backed, how will a million other things get paid for?

It's an issue that drills down to the local level, as all politics do (hat tip to the late, great Tip O'Neal). Many folks here in my community are completely unwilling to back a bond referendum for new school buildings-never mind the most recently built of those we're using is approaching fifty years old.

I've heard otherwise perfectly reasonable people say why should they pay school taxes, they don't have any children in school. Once my head stops spinning at the utter wtf? inherent in that thinking, I tell them, 'You know, there's a jail building over there behind the sheriff's department. I pay taxes for it, and gladly. I don't ever plan to use it, but I'm glad it's there. We have one of the finest rural fire services in the state in this county. I pray I will never have to call on their services, and damn glad to pay a dollar to have it.

Roads, textbooks, computers in classrooms, libraries, fire trucks, and police officers don't come for free. They're the best of what our taxes go for. Is tax money wasted? Well sure-a certain 'bridge to nowhere' comes to mind. But unpatriotic to pay taxes? Lady, you're really barking up the crazy tree on that one.

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