Today is tax day. I feel happy. Giving, like they say, is better than receiving. Well, at least equal.
Each year, paying our taxes is the biggest gift that my wife and I offer to other people.
We help elderly and poor people get health care through Medicare and Medicaid. We help make public education available to every child in America. We help support international assistance programs that feed, clothe, and otherwise assist fellow human beings in need.
Close to home, today our local newspaper here in Oregon ran a story, "Thousands more may get jobless benefits." Women with children. Young people losing a first job. Construction workers.
Download Jobless benefits
The money is coming from -- take a guess -- taxes! In the form of the $787 billion federal economic recovery package. I have a friend who is out of work. He said that the stimulus bill also extends unemployment benefits, which will be a big help for him.
We democratically elect people, who then vote on government spending and taxes. The United States always has done this. Where's the need for a Tea Party? If people don't like what elected officials are doing, they can try to vote them out of office at the next election.
There's a Tea Party happening right now in Salem at the State Capitol. Reportedly 1000 or so people took part. Not bad. In Boston only about 500 showed up. Obviously not a mass movement.
Because most Americans aren't selfish, like the Tea Party folks seem to be. All I hear from them is that they want to keep more of their own money, so sick and poor people can't benefit from society's helping hand.
Well, each to his own.
One of the signs at our local Tea Party said "I'd rather live under a bridge than under socialism." Me, I'd rather live under a caring social democracy (which is inaccurately called "socialism") than under a bridge.
Often, if not usually, government can spend taxpayers' money more wisely than they can. Just look at all the crap people buy. And how it isn't possible for any individual (unless super rich) to pave a road, build a school, or run a hospital.
Government allows us to band together, pool our money, and pay for the communal goods that we can't provide on our own. So tax day should be celebrated, rather than cursed.
It's when we demonstrate that the boundaries of our concern, empathy, charity, and love extend beyond the narrow confines of our little ego-centered me, me, me world.
Pay your taxes with a smile. It's the greatest gift you'll give in 2009.
[Update: just read this piece by Paul Begala. We're on the same pro-tax wavelength:]
If the whiners at Fox News want to advertise their selfishness, they are free to do so. But please don't dress it up as patriotism. Patriotism is putting your country ahead of yourself -- which is the precise opposite of what the tea party plutocrats are doing.