There are few things more ubiquitously complained about than taxes. Many of us think of taxes as the government swiping our hard earned money with little benefit to us. In life we tend to feel very aware of how others benefit from our hard work and less aware of when we benefit from others. It is often the same with taxes. We feel the cost of taxes on us, but the benefits taxes pay for can go rather unnoticed.
Let me give a few examples… after prefacing that of course none of these services work perfectly. Taxes are spent imperfectly because governments are run by people and people spend imperfectly. Sometimes tax dollars are even used unjustly, because they are spent by people and again, people aren’t always just. But instead of zeroing in on that, I want think for a bit about what life might be like with none of these public services.
Your tax dollars pay for our defense. They pay the salaries of our soldiers, the benefits of our vets, and for weapons and technology that we use to keep ourselves safe in case of attack.
Your tax dollars fund disease control, medical research, and food safety.
Your tax dollars pay for public education. This means that the great majority of the population was able to go to school and learn to read and write and do math. We all benefit from an educated population.
You tax dollars fund our court, providing a pathway for justice (well, hopefully) for people who have been wronged.
Your tax dollars pay for a social safety net- welfare. Yes, I said it. Your taxes pay for things like medicaid, food stamps, and other assistance for people with low income. Yes, welfare is a complicated thing and we need to think more systemically to address the reasons for poverty. That said, I am glad to live in a society with a safety net where we’ve collectively determined that it is simply not ok for people to die on the street because they don’t have their own money to pay.
Your tax dollars fund the roads we drive on to get to work, to ship our products, to go to church, and to travel.
Your tax dollars help provide free and fair elections.
Your tax dollars pay for police, firefighters, and other safety and emergency services.
On election day I have a unique opportunity to vote in a way that says what I want our tax priorities to be. I can speak to the just and good use of taxes, voting for candidates I believe will do the most good with our collective pot o money.
Every day I’m free to share my opinion on taxes with my elected representatives and the public through phone calls, protests, facebook posts, and whatever else suits.
But this Tax Day when we write our check to Uncle Sam, I’m going to count my tax funded blessings and raise a glass to living in a society that makes provision for many of our collective needs.