BY SHARON MARTIN
Sales tax. Fees. Property tax. Income tax. Every person in this country pays taxes, even visitors and undocumented workers. In return, we expect certain things – safe roads, clean water, firefighters with working equipment.
The deficit hawks get loud and mean when working people need housing subsidies or help buying food. They positively screech when someone mentions universal healthcare, never mind that it would save all of us money. Public education? Let private companies come in and make a profit, no guarantees.
But where are the hawks when we cut taxes on high earners and corporations? Mostly silent.
Tax isn’t a dirty word.
Taxes are money citizens throw into the bucket to fund the things we need. We don’t give away our money; we pool it.
If you don’t want to be part of the pool, OK. You can hire tutors for your kids, pay a toll to drive on county roads, and put out your own fires.
Not what you had in mind?
What do you want your taxes to provide?
Which would you rather fund: food allowance for hungry kids or a subsidy for General Electric? How do you feel about supporting job training and community college for every student? How about subsidizing for-profit prisons?
Even the poorest among us pays taxes.
In Oklahoma, the homeless guy who scrounges $20 for Vienna sausages and canned spaghetti will spend about $2 of that $20 on sales tax. That’s 10% of his entire fortune, a higher percentage than some corporations pay. Shouldn’t he have a voice?
There are American companies that get more back in subsidies than they pay in taxes. That means they aren’t helping pay for roads and bridges over which their goods travel. They aren’t paying for public schools that train the next generation of workers.
When we all throw a few bucks into the hat and send a buddy out for pizza and Pepsi, we expect to get our fair share. We should expect no less for our tax dollars.
Politicians exchange tax breaks for campaign donations. Those of us with no money to spend on our own personal legislator are left without much of a voice. But we can vote.
Our vote is our voice.
It’s up to us to hold deficit hawks accountable to the taxpayers. All taxpayers. The widow’s mite is worth as much as a billionaire’s millions.
Tell legislators what you want your tax dollars to cover and hold them to it. And let them know they can’t fulfill their promises if everyone doesn’t pay their fair share.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. Her latest book, Not A Prodigal, is available through Barnes and Noble. Her recent children’s book, Froggy Bottom Blues, can be purchased in hardcover or paperback from Doodle and Peck Publishing. It also is available in paperback from Amazon.