Months ago, after a bitterly fought battle to retain the special school levy in Morgan County – it lost – I was asked to write an essay on why taxes were good.
It’s been rolling around in my head since then along with how to protect myself from the stream of abuse that would result. Today, it all became really clear. There is a lot more to paying taxes than simply educating our children for a better future – as if that were not enough.
A friend from years ago who is now with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, sent a photo of a local farmers market with an impressive array of abundant fresh foods – potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages. His caption: “Lots of hopeful sellers, but not a single buyer.” Someone asked the obvious questions: what happened to the food? Why is it not being bought?
Once it has really rotted, the food is put in dumpsters and left for foraging animals. He explained the reality today in Africa. It was a similar reality to what I saw in the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Access to money to buy the food is lacking. Roads, cold storage facilities, supermarkets to keep it from rotting in the fields – or farmers markets – and get it where it needs to be are not available.
In the U.S., tax dollars provide 15 percent of the population (most of them children and old folks) with food stamps so they can buy food. In the U.S., tax dollars build roads and bridges and pay public servants to keep them plowed and repaired so food can get to all the places that need it. In the U.S., tax dollars subsidize farmers so they are able to produce milk and grow food. In the U.S., utilities are regulated so electricity is virtually universal. In the U.S., tax dollars pay for municipal water systems and irrigation projects as well as the people who operate them and assure their safety.
The small fry anti-tax folks in the U.S. believe the money is better spent by them on an additional Big Gulp each day. The rich contend they are “creating jobs” when they spend the tax dollars they don’t have to pay on a second or third or fourth home complete with eight-car garage. None of them, rich or poor, could live for a day without what tax dollars buy.
Institutions and the people who operate them, from schools, hospitals and libraries to parks and airports would not be universally available and reliably functioning. Public safety would turn into private armies. The real military would no longer exist. Millions and millions of people employed by the government would be out of work, and no imagined free market economy could take up the slack. The state of West Virginia, the purest socialist state in the U.S.A. with its economy more than two-thirds based on tax dollars, would collapse.
So, here’s my offer to all those who don’t want to pay taxes: go live a bleak life in a cave without the Internet – and it better not be on public land.
— Jeanne Mozier recently released her 6th published volume, a novel entitled: Senate Magic. An updated version of her best-selling, Way Out in West Virginia, is due out by year’s end. She and her husband own and operate the Star Theatre in Berkeley Springs as a profit-making business (in a good year) and pay their taxes.