April 15 has never been considered a day for celebration, and it's especially tough to pay taxes when so many of us are struggling financially.
But the real problem isn't taxation. Our real problem is the new "bipartisan" drive toward austerity, a mad obsession which runs against the 75-year political consensus of both political parties. Once our leaders understood government's vital role in a healthy economy.
No more, apparently. Today's new corporate-sponsored cost-cutting craze is merely the latest policy designed to enrich a powerful few at the expense of the many, and today's anti-tax agenda is being used to make sure it succeeds.
Taxes provide us with many important services, often far more cheaply and efficiently than the private sector. It wouldn't be painful to pay taxes in a well-managed economy where everyone prospered. The thriving America of the 1950s and 1960s had top tax rates as high as 91 percent, and those taxes helped create the prosperity that's so sorely lacking today.
Still, many people are undoubtedly asking themselves this April 15: What have taxes ever done for me?
If You Can Read This ...
Public education probably helped you learn to read. And when you find anything on the Internet, you're using technology invented with tax dollars. Taxes bring other benefits too, too numerous to mention, including the greatest one of all:
You're alive. You haven't died of smallpox or any of the other diseases which are restrained by tax-funded public health programs. You haven't been crushed inside a collapsing building, mangled by a grain solo, or met any of the other grisly deaths prevented by tax-funded safety programs.
You didn't burn to death in a home that was never inspected for fire hazards, trapped helplessly as the flames rose and knowing there were no firefighters available to answer your call. You and your significant other weren't shot down like Batman's parents on the streets of an under-policed and lawless metropolis.
These benefits, along with thousands of others, are abstract and easy to forget, especially when paying your taxes is such a concrete experience.
It's an experience that isn't always shared by our largest corporations.
Citizens for Tax Justice has a list of corporations that don't pay a penny in taxes. They make a fortune from our taxes, which provide them with an educated workforce, intellectual property protection, lucrative government contracts, physical safety, and hundreds of technologies designed and built at government expense
They get all those things, free of charge, from us.
General Electric. Boeing. Corning. Wells Fargo. They're among the many corporations that have gone at least one or more years without paying any Federal taxes. Together they made $205 billion in pre-tax profits and paid a negative rate over a four-year period.