We are lucky to still receive the quality of police and fire service that we enjoy. We count on those services and expect them. But what about the services that all those “invisible” members of our community rely upon? Services to the poor, elderly and even our children?
During the last election the people of Oklahoma voted against tax increases that our teachers and schools relied upon. In Pauls Valley, the state hospital for the mentally handicapped will now have to close its doors. Where, I wonder, will all those people go?
We are constantly being told by our civic leaders that Oklahoma is exceptional, that our economy is humming along and that we have been more or less shielded from the larger economic crisis through which the country is struggling. Politicians make their careers by promising to slash taxes even further. That these taxes provide services to the “least among us” seems not to matter. I haven’t seen a scrap of campaign literature in years that doesn’t carry some version of, “Taxes are an assault on your liberty.” “Taxation equals tyranny.” “You know how to spend your money better than government does. “Vote for me and I’ll cut your taxes even more.”
Time to stop blubbering about taxes and remember what we get in return for them: Roads, schools, hospitals, care for the poor and elderly, protection. The strength of our social compact relies on the “we” being as important as the “me.”
Sounding a little like the sermon on the mount? Perhaps it is. Taxes are the way we communally live out the beatitudes. It’s how we “go out of our way to help others.”