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Paying Taxes on Pearl Harbor Day [Dec. 7th, 2010|10:40 pm]
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[Current Mood |grateful]

I was writing checks for property taxes and realized that today's feelings about that were different from other years on other dates.

A lot of thoughts came up about that, some relevant to current political issues.   So...here, in what will probably be a less than ideally organized arrangement, they are. 

The United States entered WWII immediately after that attack--an attack that cost something over 3700 American lives (counting deaths at other locations than Pearl Harbor itself.)   I was born in the last year of WWII (early 1945.)   Pearl Harbor was in the immediate background of my childhood--a formative cultural memory.   The parents I knew as a child (all, not just mine) had all experienced the Depression and all remembered Pearl Harbor.   Their ideas about citizenship were shaped by both--and their ideas shaped ours, whether we agreed or rebelled.  

What does this have to do with paying property taxes, you may ask.   Well...back then, where I grew up, complaints about taxes were minimal.   The adults I knew were well aware that public schools, public roads, public hospitals, were all valuable to all...and that we were privileged to live in a country that could provide them...by taxing people who were (in those days) well-employed.   Home ownership had soared, post WWII--and with home ownership came property taxes.  It was a privilege to own a home--and paying taxes was not only a duty, but part of the privilege of ownership. 

So the sour, resentful, negative attitude about taxes, including property taxes,  just wasn't as common as it is now.  The Teapartyers  would've been run out of town on a rail as ungrateful, unpatriotic whiners.   Like everyone else, I can think of things to do with my money other than pay taxes.   But unlike the whiners,  I recognize that what I have comes in large part from being born and raised in a nation of other taxpayers whose honest contributions provided far more for me than I have yet paid back.   Some of it's obvious--the benefits I personally got from public schools and libraries, from state-supported universities, from public roads and safe city water and sewer (yes, I paid a user fee--gladly--but the infrastructure for water also came from property taxes someone else paid in the past) to  tax-funded city, county, state and national parks which provide incredible recreation opportunities for all.  Some of it is less obvious--the tax-funded services that give us weather information, accurate maps,  health and safety data...and on and on.

It really torques me that those who have benefited the most from all the opportunities this nation provides are demanding extended tax cuts when their fellow citizens are still hurting, still unemployed, still losing their homes.  It really torques me that they seem to feel no gratitude for what they've received--that they clearly feel no fellowship with other citizens, no sense of owing anyone anything.  

Paying taxes is both a duty and a privilege...and a thank-you to those who fought for our freedom and those who built and taught in our schools, and built and maintained our roads and bridges, and studied how to preserve and conserve our national res
ources, and all the many other things that tax money was used for, that benefits us and mankind.   I owe it to those who died in the Pearl Harbor attack--and to those who died in WWII and after, both in combat and in peacetime, military and civilians, and those who worked hard for make this country better--to pay my taxes cheerfully, willingly, gratefully. 

[User Picture]From: litch
2010-12-08 05:17 am (UTC)
I have always... not enjoyed but valued the ability to pay the taxes I have paid. That activity, more than voting or jury duty or any of the other duties of citizenship really felt the most meaningful.

But since I am on retainer for the devil I should point out that in some sense we forced the japanese to attack pearl harbor. Imperial japan was a small country with few resources, to continue they needed access to resources that we and england (and the dutch and portugese to much lesser extent) were blocking in the south pacific. In order to expand and thrive they had to have access to the south pacific the same way we need access to the mid-east oil supply.
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From: paulwoodlin
2010-12-08 10:12 pm (UTC)
Except Japan was using a lot of those resources for their invasion of China. If their expansion had been simply economic, I think we would have happily sold them oil, rubber, etc.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-12-10 03:42 am (UTC)


Davy Crockett D-Tenn claimed it was immoral for the Government to take money from one person to give to another. I agree I believe that there is so much waste and red tape with federal programs that they do much more harm than good. I have been out of work for over a year. no assistance as I retired. But pay lots of taxes.
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2010-12-08 05:42 am (UTC)
Well put, and thank you.
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[User Picture]From: dragonmyst
2010-12-08 06:34 am (UTC)

I agree, fully.
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[User Picture]From: kirylyn
2010-12-08 08:42 am (UTC)
Also, people weren't so disillusioned with the government until the Vietnam War. There wasn't such a sense of our taxes were going directly into politicos pockets (or the lobbyists)

As one of the unemployed and homeless, while I'm grateful that the benefits were extended, I'm not sure extending the tax cuts to the 1% rich was worth the deal :-/
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[User Picture]From: kosarin
2010-12-08 08:29 pm (UTC)
This was always my impression, but while talking with my father (who I am guessing is about the age of the original poster) he claimed that there had been a lot of disillusionment with the government during his parent's generation during the great depression, but World War II brought more patriotism and pride.
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From: paulwoodlin
2010-12-08 10:18 pm (UTC)
It is one of the ironies of our time that the party that doesn't want to pay taxes is the flag waving, self proclaimed patriots. It's also one of the ironies that the Bible-thumpers are the ones ignoring the teachings of Jesus. It is almost Orwellian.

I sometimes wonder just how many people in the GOP believe this is the End Times, so why invest in the future? It literally doesn't matter to them if the US borrows so much money or lets it's infrastructure rot, because they think Jesus is coming soon.
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[User Picture]From: judifilksign
2010-12-08 10:59 pm (UTC)
I have always been proud of paying my taxes, and am keenly aware of the value of them, because not only do I benefit from services directly such as the library and civic protections, but I am a teacher whose salary is paid through taxes.

I find myself wondering whether the increase in government funding on pet projects that take away from "basic" services are what fuel the tax resentments of the Tea Party and others.

When local taxes go to other things than paying the cops, the fireman, the teachers and the librarians, in favor of programs folks didn't want and didn't get consulted upon, and infrastructure crumbles, people get angry that their tax dollars are going to waste. I don't hear the Tea Partiers object to education, more that monies aren't being used for important things LIKE education. (Although I do object to many, many, other things they say, this, at least, strikes a chord with me.)

My sister, who lives in California, reports that voters have mandated many unfunded "musts" upon the state that must be met BEFORE the schools get money, BEFORE roads get built, and so on. Many programs valued by the taxpayers are actually cut because they voted for these mandates, she says. Unintended consequences.

So, the screams for reduced government get louder, even as the needs of the desperate become greater.
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[User Picture]From: groblek
2010-12-09 12:51 am (UTC)
As a Californian, I have to correct this a bit - schools aren't one of the areas that gets cut due to unfunded mandates. The state constitution actually mandates a certain percentage of the budget that must go to schools. The big problem here on that end is that the money is badly distributed, with a lot of unnecessary controls put on what the schools can do with the money.
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[User Picture]From: judifilksign
2010-12-09 02:00 am (UTC)
Thank you for the correction; "I heard it from 'x' verbal source" is not always accurate.
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[User Picture]From: whswhs
2010-12-09 07:37 am (UTC)
Back then, wasn't a larger share of taxes, especially property taxes, going to visible services such as schools, police, and fire departments? Now the budgetary and administrative machinery is a lot more complicated; there's more of a sense that money goes in here, and then incomprehensible things happen, and then benefits come out somewhere else . . . but the cause and effect is less visible. And when the allocation of tax funds is made more transparent, it often gives an impression of being based on manipulation and payoffs, as in the complicated Congressional juggling that eventually got the health care law passed, or the lobbying by state employee unions that induced legislatures to pass pension plans that now have many states in financial difficulty—my own state, California, being one of the worst off.
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[User Picture]From: made_of_paradox
2010-12-09 10:45 pm (UTC)
I spent 10 years of my life (including the one that included my 18th birthday, and the right to then vote) in a small town in New England, that had as its form of government "town meeting".

And the night the annual budget was being voted on, things did not go as usual, in that people started questioning the budget, and it was gone over line-by-line. The police budget got cut by the amount for the patrol boat for the body of water that was entirely the town's jurisdiction. (The other major body of water was partly in a state park, so presumably the state had a number of responsibilities there.) Other individual items of the budget were removed. I myself looked at the exhaustive detail of the budget, and when my parents were ready to leave, I was satisfied that we'd gone over everything that I was wanting to vote against, or at least hear the debate about before making up my mind.

That system let us all have a say in where our property taxes were going. We couldn't do a dang thing about the Federal taxes where we were (except to vote in officeholders to send to DC that had New England Common Sense, as opposed to having become Political Zombies -- and there's a story there that I won't burden you with right now), but boy, we sure could have a say, each and every one of us, with regards to the town budget. And, collectively, we did.

(That may be the only thing I miss about actually living there now -- anything else I really miss can be made up for by taking strategically-timed trips up that way.)
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[User Picture]From: cissa
2010-12-13 07:02 am (UTC)
I currently live in a town in MA with a town meeting- and THAT is real democracy in action. We do get to go over the budget line by line and discuss and vote on each one.

It was eye-opening the first time I attended one, and I am passionately fond of the concept and process.
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[User Picture]From: kk1raven
2010-12-14 07:02 pm (UTC)
Well said! I think that too much tax money is wasted in various ways but in general I don't object to paying reasonable taxes because I want what the taxes pay for. I don't necessarily use all of those things myself, but I want them to exist. I'm sick of people who have much more than me whining about having to pay taxes. Right now I'm particularly annoyed with the ones who are writing letters to the editor about how horrible it is that their municipality is giving its library about $1 per resident in funding. They think that only people who use the library should have to contribute to funding it. The ones who think that only parents should have to pay school taxes anger me as well.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-14 07:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah...the claims of "waste" for public libraries and schools really annoys me, too. The point of a public service is that anyone can use it--or not use it--but it's there when it's needed. There've been years I didn't use a public library because I had access to a university library and no time to read beyond that, but I was glad to know the public libraries were still there. If someone wants to buy books, I'm sure not against that (as a writer, of course I'm not against that) but I want people who can't afford books and magazines to have that access. I spent hours in the library when I was a kid (and no, we could not have afforded a per-visit or per-book-checked-out fee, however small.) The bulk of my reading, for years, came out of the public library--much more than in school--and contributed to my education and my future as a writer.

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