As far back as the Boston Tea Party, taxes have stirred passions. In campaign season, the word “tax” is tossed around like a grenade, often prompting politicians to duck and hide. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks politicians should stop running from the “Tax-and-Spend” label and instead defend taxes – and the many vital services they fund:
As far back as the Boston Tea Party, taxes have stirred passions. In campaign season the
word “tax” is tossed around like a grenade, often prompting politicians to duck and hide.
But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks politicians should
stop running from the “Tax-and-Spend” label and instead defend taxes – and the many
vital services they fund.
Despite a shaky economy, a looming war, despite rising numbers of uninsured
Americans, somehow there are still politicians who peddle tax cuts as cure alls.
It’s about time we clear something up: When a candidate says, “I’ll lower your taxes,”
he’s put forth only half of an idea. The other half of that idea involves cutting programs
that could be important to many of us.
I recently stood on a Northern Indiana lakeshore and admired a crisp, autumn scene. But
instead of inspiring me the quiet water and the changing landscape filled me with a dull,
nagging worry. I imagined a future without such places – or at least without public
access to them.
Like countless other venues around the country, the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources recently suffered the loss of 8.2 million dollars in permanent budget cuts, cuts
that forced the elimination of arts and cultural programs in state parks, the closing of
some parks, and the “downsizing” of many that stayed open. Still others were turned
over to private operators who increased fees to cover actual costs, making visits now
unaffordable for some people.
Few politicians seem willing to admit that slashing taxes means shrinking public service
and even public safety. Yet this is the time to connect the dots, to thread together rhetoric
and reality. It’s a long list of things that make a society — our society — livable. A
thriving park system is just one piece of the delicate mosaic we call civilization.
Is there ever mismanagement of public funds? Sure, and it deserves attention. But,
seriously, when’s the last time you saw a park naturalist in an Armani suit or behind the
wheel of a Rolls Royce? For the most part, government employees are not whooping it
up on your tax dollars. And never mind Enron – in Indiana the salaries of just 10 of our
highest paid executives could support the entire Indiana Department of Natural
Resources’ general fund. That’s a story that plays out in nearly every state across the
Right now — in the midst of campaign season — is the time to sort through national and
local priorities. Whether anyone acknowledges it or not, cutting taxes means cutting
away at the fabric of society.
Surely if our nation can find the money and the will to fully fund war and death, we can’t
claim poverty when we’re challenged to enhance life.
Julia King lives and writes in Goshen, Indiana. She comes to us through the Great Lakes