TAXES BUILD COMMUNITIES
Philip Anderson has been working with Duluth, MN activists to organize events for the week of Tax Day. They are planning a teach-in, a rally, and have created the following survey to show REAL people’s public spending priorities. Please take the online survey! It is important that many people take the survey. This will be the message for the April 15 rally. Congress is doing this…. but people want better priorities! “How would you spend $1 trillion?” www.surveymonkey.com/s/V5LYJQK Please pass this survey on to your contacts.
Everyone loves to hate taxes but the truth is taxes are good. Taxes are the way we come together as citizens to build communities. They are the way we work together to meet the needs of people and provide “public goods” necessary for a civil society.
Our economy, and your future, depends on:
- Public infrastructure like roads, water systems, sewer systems, airports and harbors
- Courts and the legal system
- Public health, safety, labor, financial, and consumer protection rules
- Police and firefighters
- Food, water, product safety
- Bank deposit insurance
- Student financial aid programs
- Social Security and Medicare
- Public schools, colleges & universities
- Disease control
- National Weather Service
- Basic scientific research
- Retirement program insurance for private business
- Disaster relief
- And much, much more that government provides though taxes.
In addition government is a major employer and consumer of private sector products. Rather than taking money from the economy government spending is about 40% of GDP. Government spending mitigates recessions and provides a stable economic base. Government is the referee and rule maker that makes the private sector work. Business could not function without protections for private property, a legal framework, and the court system. Do we pay too much in taxes for these necessary services? Everyone likes to complain but 85% of us pay less than 10% in federal income taxes. In 2011 Americans paid, as a percentage of income, between 17% and 29% in total taxes. This includes all federal state, and local income, property, payroll, and sales taxes. Is this too much to live in the “greatest nation” in the world?
Are you better off keeping your “hard earned” money? Individual tax savings are too small to purchase the services provided to everyone through efficient government programs. Can you plow your own road or protect your family from bank fraud, natural disaster, or disease? Is the private sector more “efficient”? Is government incompetent and wasteful? Social Security operates on 4% overhead. The Post offices delivers nationwide for pennies. Air traffic control and bank deposit insurance are very cost effective. All large organizations can have problems including private sector businesses. We should deal with these problems when they arise and not blindly accept false stereotypes.
But don’t we have to fix budget deficits? Budget deficits can be a problem but we have many options. Cutting vital public services is not necessary. We can reduce deficits by increasing revenue. We can cut subsidies, tax breaks, and loopholes that often do nothing to stimulate the economy or accomplish desired goals. Tax breaks to individuals and businesses will cost $1.24 trillion in 2015, more than the total federal discretionary budget. Sixty percent of businesses pay NO income tax and many wealthy individuals pay a smaller percentage of tax than working people. We can stop tax cheating. We lose $400 to $500 billion a year in lost revenue to fraud and cheating. The cost of war since 2001 is $1.6 trillion and rising.
No rational discussion of federal budgets can ignore Pentagon spending and the costs of the recent wars. The Pentagon spends 55% of the federal discretionary budget. The Center for Defense Information, a think tank run by former military officers, says total “national security” spending for all government agencies is about $1 trillion. This is 85% of the discretionary budget. Is this really necessary?
We can set better priorities. Funding education, public infrastructure, or research and development builds for the future. Investments in people have long term returns. Preventive social services such as prenatal care, Head Start, and youth after school programs save money in the long run.
We do have alternatives to harmful budget cuts. The “Peoples Budget”, is a BALANCED BUDGET that PUTS PEOPLE FIRST. Unfortunately it was voted down in Congress. For more see www.betteroffbudget.squarespace.com.
Taxes are the dues we pay for membership in society. Government must have enough revenue to do its job. On April 15th we should stop complaining and CELEBRATE all we have achieved with our tax dollars.
Learn more at:
Government is Good www.governmentisgood.com
National Priorities Project www.nationalpriorities.org
Citizens for Tax Justice http://ctj.org