Friedlander: Reap taxes’ rewards? Yes. Pay taxes? Uh, no
I believe that I am an average American. I pay my taxes every year. I served in the military. I served my community as a volunteer firefighter. I try, as best I can, to keep abreast of the issues that face the country, the state and my community. I vote in every election and I accept the result of the election, whether I like them or not. I want my children to have a better life than I had. And, I am frustrated and confused. Allow me to explain.
We complain, as a nation, about having to pay taxes. But, when a devastating tornado strikes Joplin or a catastrophic hurricane destroys major parts of New Orleans, we immediately want to know what the federal response is. Who pays for that federal response? When a foreign terrorist strikes New York and Washington, we immediately want to know how and when we will retaliate. What entity will stand up and defend the freedom that we cherish so dearly? And who pays for that defense of our freedom?
We pride ourselves on the interstate highway system that we built in the 1950s. But itís now 60 years old and in serious need of repair. Who is going to pay for that much-needed repair? And, if we all benefit from repairing that highway system, shouldnít we all have to pay?
Is a quality education a right or a privilege? Are only those children who are born into families of wealth and means entitled to obtain a quality education? Or is every child entitled to a quality education? We pride ourselves on the fact that the American educational system, both public and private, is the best in the world. Who pays for that? Donít teachers and school administrators deserve to make an income that is commensurate with the service that they provide?
Is quality health care a right or a privilege? Are only those among us who have accumulated wealth, have the benefit of access to quality health care? Or does everyone have access to quality health care? The politicians have said that no one will be denied emergency health services, regardless of their ability to pay. But who does pay?
Shouldnít those people who provide that quality health care be able to receive a living and decent wage? The nurses, respiratory therapists, lab techs, X-ray techs, physical therapists, obtain expensive educations in order to provide us with quality health care we demand. And their education doesnít stop at graduation. They must, by professional requirement, continue to educate themselves as to the improvements that occur in their professions. Who pays for that?
In all that I have mentioned, perhaps the most frustrating part is the attack that is being made on our most basic and fundamental freedom. In this country, both political parties have developed an insatiable lust for political power. And they will stop at nothing to satisfy that lust. Serve the needs of only those who contribute large sums of money to the elected officials campaign. Blame the poor for being poor. Find a way not to pay your fair share of the cost of our freedom. Vilify those who have a different point of view so that no common good is possible.
Donít govern, itís way too risky. Donít do the peopleís work, itís unpopular. Hold onto your seat in government at all costs. Create laws that make it more difficult for certain segments of our population to exercise the right to vote ó a right that millions of Americans have given their lives defending. Is this the America that they died for? Did they die for the privileged few or for all of us? Will we continue to be frustrated and confused or will we stand up and be Americans? Will we remind those who wish to govern that they do so at the pleasure of the people?
Yes, it is a frustrating and confusing time to be an American citizen. And yet, it is still the greatest country on earth.
ĖRichard S. Friedlander, of Hughesville, is retired.
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