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Paying Our Dues for Club America

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With April 15th having just passed, we can all agree that nobody enjoys paying taxes. But wealthy Republicans positively hate it.  They have worked for decades to instill the idea of taxation as some sort of unfair punishment. Their fundamental aim has been to escape paying taxes and under Bush they largely succeeded.

But the simple truth is that taxes are our dues--what we pay to enjoy the benefits of American society. Taxes are the dues we pay to live in a secure society that provides a huge infrastructure available to all its citizens.

America's government at the federal, state, and local levels has two fundamental purposes-protection and providing the public infrastructure. Protection includes the military, the police, firefighters, emergency services and public health. The public infrastructure includes the basic needs for business and everyday life: roads, communication systems, water supplies, public education, the banking system, the courts for enforcing laws and contracts, support for scientific research, our national parks, and much more. We are usually aware of the protection function. But the public infrastructure, also provided by our taxes, is usually taken for granted. For many people, it seems like the public infrastructure was just put there by magic and is free. The fact is that the public infrastructure we rely on everyday was paid for by previous taxpayers. Now it is our turn to pay our dues to maintain it.

We all belong to a great club called America. People pay dues to join a gym or a golf club. They did not pay for these facilities with their own membership. These clubs were built and paid for by earlier members, and all the current members maintain them with their dues. It's the same thing with our country. Taxes are the dues we pay to belong to Club America. Some say that taxes are theft. The truth is that taking club benefits without paying your dues is theft.

For those who believe they shouldn't be paying taxes, consider the following list:

If you don't like paying taxes...

   Don't drive on public streets or highways

   Don't call 911

   Don't use the court system

   Don't call the police when you get robbed

   Don't call the fire department

   Don't expect the military to defend your country

   Don't visit national parks or hike in national forests or state parks

   Don't visit the public library or public museums

   Don't fly on an airplane that has been inspected according to FAA safety rules

   Don't apply for a patent or a copyright

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Joe Parko is a retired college professor who taught for 28 years in the School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and serves on the steering committee of Cumberland (more...)
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