Here it comes, folks. None of us can stop it. It is as inevitable as death and taxes. Oh, yes, that’s what it is: taxes. Does the term 1040 strike terror into your hearts? “But,” you say, as though words could hold back the tide, “this is only March.” True, but remember, you only have until March forty-sixth to do the deed. (I prefer not to besmirch gentle April—see next month’s “Alive.”)
With this most frightening, almost immoral, subject breached and in the open, I must at this point render a confession: “I do not mind paying income tax.” There, I feel better having gotten that off my chest. Wait, I need to amend that slightly: “I do not mind paying MY FAIR SHARE OF income tax.”
In no way whatsoever am I complaining about my personal life style. I have never missed a meal due to lack of money—time, yes, but never due to money. I do not need or want the latest fashions in clothes. I love my three year-old little Honda Fit. Shirley and I live quite nicely in our 3BR, 2BA condo in Rossmoor. But it frosts my buns, now in their ninth decade, when people who make vastly more money and live infinitely more luxurious lives than I pay less in taxes and, indeed, sometimes even pay NO taxes.
Nor am I happy about my tax money purchasing $200 screw drivers, or whatever that nonsense was. I do not appreciate a Congress that bellows platitudes, keeps all their own perks perking, while the bulk of the nation’s government was shut down. I do not want my bucks keeping legislators in office for years while sitting on their hands and not attacking the problems we face as a nation; waiting to retire and become consultants in order to accumulate Jillions of dollars. (My fellow democrats, do not get holier than thou about that last issue. “I ain’t gonna tackle that one ‘cause I might not get re-elected,” crosses party lines.)
Why then do I not mind paying taxes? Simple. That is the necessary cost in order to live in, what in my opinion, is the greatest nation in the world—now or ever! Does “greatest” mean we have no problems? Of course, not. We got ‘em and we got ‘em in spades: race; internal violence; immigration; Social Security; policing the world, especially the 12th Century Middle East; the ugliness of modern politics; trying to force other countries to accept democracy; the list could on and almost everyone reading this could add to the list.
Of course we have problems, but if a person should want to call the sitting President, regardless of party, a dirty, rotten @#%&* or call him/her the greatest person alive, neither has to worry about being carted off in the middle of the night and simply disappearing.
Although I am not an observant or religious person, being Jewish probably makes me a bit more sensitive to this issue. Both my wife and I are first generation Americans, born in California and Pennsylvania, respectively. In order to escape the pogroms, my mother’s family came to this country from what was then Czarist Russia, now Lithuania, in 1905 when Mother was about eight months old. My father was born in England of English and German parents who, seeking a better life, brought him here in 1901 when he was four or five. They were both naturalized citizens, voted and paid taxes. I have voted in every election since I was first eligible in 1952—sometimes voting for someone I truly respected; sometimes just choosing the lesser of the “evils.”
A couple of chaps named Joe and Adolph would have seen to it that I would never see the light of day had those two families not come to the country where the streets were not paved with gold, but opportunity lay waiting for everyone equally. (Well, almost equally; there are still some who have to work a lot harder to achieve the degree of “equality” others enjoy.)
Even in our wonderful country some people still live in “ghettos.” Those ghettos, however, are economically imposed, not instigated by the government with imprisonment or even death being the punishment for violating the ghetto law. In my lifetime and the lifetimes of many of the readers of this treatise, governments of sophisticated, modern countries tried to systematically eliminate people because of their religion, ethnicity, sexual choice, and because they spoke out against the reigning authorities.
Here we may dislike or even despise someone else’s life style, but law and tradition prohibits us from harming them or hindering their opportunities. What percentage of one’s income is that worth? Ten percent? Twenty? Thirty? Although I cannot put a specific number on it, to me it’s a hell of a lot.
This November we who are caring citizens will have the magnificent opportunity to select a President and other high officials to govern us. About a third of us will vote one way; another third the other way; and the final third will decide the elections. How glorious is that! Or would we prefer that the gang with the most fire power and willingness to harm others decide for us all.That too has got to be worth a portion of our income.
The sad part of the process falls to the large numbers who cannot or will not take the time and energy to take advantage of this wonderful gift. I cannot help but wonder how much complaining and hot air those who do not vote generate, despite their complacency.
As a concerned citizen, I recognize many of the problems facing our country, but we are still able to discuss, debate, and, legislators willing, even tackle some of the problems. To solve the problems we will all have to give a little and settle for less than what we each consider ideal.
Guess what! The good ole U. S. of A. will, in William Faulkner’s words from his Nobel Prize speech, “not only survive, we will prevail.”
So if you haven’t already, sometime between March 1 and March 46, PAY UP OR SHUT UP!
(It is the best investment you will ever make.)