We are supposedly the richest nation on Earth. You might not think so from
the nature of the political conversation now going on or from the ragged state
of our infrastructure or the straitened circumstances of some of our fellow
Our President has proposed cutting (mostly wealthy) people's taxes by $600
billion over 10 years, in addition to the cuts he made last year. Yet we have
fellow citizens who have to choose between paying the rent, feeding themselves
and buying medicines. We have millions of citizens who are functionally
illiterate, and many more so badly educated that you wouldn't want them in your
operating room or repair shops.
Our schools are underfunded, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not have
enough inspectors, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the IRS and other vital government agencies are
understaffed. There aren't enough air controllers. Most of the states are facing
Taxes are the cost of a civilized society. However badly it may do some
things, government is the only provider of many services we demand and need.
Most of the proposed tax cuts will go to people who don't need the money.
I have always believed that, among other things, "liberty and justice for
all" meant that there was a social contract among the people of this country.
I have not heard any politician or anyone else discussing what the priorities
of an affluent and civil society should be. The question of taxes is not just
about surpluses and deficits, but about what resources we as a people want to
employ to make this country a better and fairer place to live.