I read an article today on the NPR website that talks about voters who want what tax dollars will provide (like repairs to the country's aging infrastructure) but have no interest in providing the funds to make it happen. Where do they think the money is going to come from? Heaven? Maybe that's why the far right agenda seems to be more focused on mollifying God than doing any actual governing…
Let's face it: Many of our living wage industries have been out-sourced to greener—cheaper—pastures. Or, as is the case here in the Pacific Northwest, the mills have pretty much cut down all the cheap, easily accessible lumber, so they, too, have upped sticks and moved on to the next lumber mother-lode (Canada? The Amazon?)
What's left for those of us who live here to DO for a living? What jobs/industries are impossible to send overseas or out-source? Well….there's government (don't forget this includes law enforcement and fire protection—your tax dollars at work), education (largely funded by tax dollars), infrastructure construction and repair (cha-ching—more tax dollars.) And we know they can't outsource health care…and what a gigantic money-machine that has become since all the other industries have gone away! And then there is the Service Industry—encompassing everything from WalMart to McDonald's to parcel delivery to garbage collection. Notoriously low-paying and high-turnover jobs, the ones nobody really wants to do.
So we would all do well not to think of our tax dollars as going to entitlements benevolently bestowed upon some undeserving (in our eyes) segment of the population. We need to think about our own livelihoods—or maybe that of the guy next door, or the family who sits next to us at church. If we did away with all taxes, would you still have a job? Would you be able to make use of our tremendously overblown and overpriced health care system? How many of those folks would then lose their jobs? And since discretionary income would be hard to come by, how would that affect the service industry? What if you couldn't even afford to eat out at McDonald's anymore?
Yes, it's very popular—and the politicians know it—to scream about government overspending and a budget deficit that will imperil our economy for decades to come. But in this consumer economy we've created by letting big business get away with sending huge portions of our industries overseas, we really need to understand where those "too many" tax dollars are going. How many of them actually make it back into your own pocket, in some way? How much is government investing in keeping this wrecked ship of an economy afloat? And what would our lives look like if we just…let it sink?
Think about it.