Sheila S. Kennedy

Misplaced Priorities

Filed By Sheila S. Kennedy | August 20, 2007 11:53 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gay rights, government, pro-choice, religion, taxes

It is hardly an exaggeration to describe the America we live in as deteriorating.

From the failures of bridges and levees to the decline in America’s image abroad, from the fraying of our ability to engage in civil dialogue to failures in our public schools, from the effects of global warming to the gridlock in our governing institutions....well, you know the drill.

And which of these issues has occupied our elected officials for the past decade? Gay people. A woman’s right to choose. Teaching evolution in the schools.

And of course, keeping taxes low.

I am so OVER the people for whom these are the important issues. For what it’s worth, I am hereby issuing my very own “manifesto.”

Whereas, I am a taxpayer; and
Whereas, I consider taxes to be my “dues” to society—my fair share; and
Whereas, those dues are being paid for the privilege of living in a secure and free society, and for the services properly provided by government;

Now, therefore, the fairness of my taxes requires establishment of the following priorities:

1. I expect my government to maintain America’s infrastructure in good order; to provide police and fire protection; to provide good schools, parks, libraries and other public amenities that serve us all. I will gladly pay my fair share to support such activities.

2. I expect my government to provide for the national defense, and I will willingly pay my dues to support our military; provided, however, that such willingness does not extend to taxes paid to engage in wars of choice and national aggrandizement.

3. Since it is not government’s business to promote religion, or to discriminate among citizens based upon anything other than the lawfulness of their behavior, I am unwilling to pay taxes to enforce laws that effectively make some Americans second-class citizens, or laws that require or allow government to promote the religious beliefs of some citizens over others. I am unwilling to pay taxes to enforce laws that restrict my right to live my life in accordance with my own ethical and moral commitments, or that violate my conscience.

I have one message for the so-called “values voters.” Your real values are shown by the priorities you set—and they are not America’s values.

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Sheila- Please don't be so quick to excommunicate people like me, who do hold low taxes as a high idea, alongside other high ideals. Indeed, I agree with each of your points 1 thru 3. If only this were the scope of government! There are so many things funded via government that I don't consider the proper role of government at all. How about sports stadiums? Not just those provided for pro teams, but those provided for schools, instead of new textbooks!

The priorities are definitely remiss. But which notable early American statesman said about democracy, paraphrasing, "just wait til people discover they can vote themselves a portion of the public treasury".

The common thread between high taxes and the ability to oppress selected minorities is democracy- the rule of majority. In the shift to embrace democracy, Americans abandoned the concept of inalienable individual rights. So long as any conceivable majority can vote to oppress any conceivable minority, it's bound to happen.

So, I'll continue to press for lower spending, the root of higher taxes, in the same way I press for an end to bigotry, the root of proposals such as SJR-7, etc, &c.

Bill Mahr was interviewed by Larry King recently, and he hit the nail on the head regarding the "tax cuts" in recent years and decades:

[Paraphrasing] Whenever such tax cuts result in increases in the national debt, then all we are doing is deferring our national expenses onto our children and the generations further into the future. Thus, creating "tax cuts" and generating national debt at the same time is the cowardly way that politicians can finance America.

So, and these are my words, saying "I'm for tax cuts" is a way of saying, "I hope I'll be dead by the time the repercussions of the enormous debt we've created have to be faced and felt."

Don Sherfick | August 20, 2007 6:57 PM

Shiela, after reading your article I immediately resolved to prioritize my own misplaced priorities, but now can't remember where I put them. And to make matters worse I don't remember which one I misplaced first....or was it last? Do I have to find them in the same order they were mislaid? After reading the above two comments by readers Lopp and Cole, I wonder also: Will my taxes be lowered if I find them? Raised if I don't? Does government have a legitimate role here?

Oh, but Mike, this is not a democracy; this is a republic. This is where the founding fathers parted ways with democracy as a form of government; for they feared the tyranny of the majority very much so. The current movement, though, is trying to alter it into a democracy, where the majority does in fact oppress the minorities.

I absolutely agree with Mike and A.J.--and my memory is on a par with Don's....It wasn't my intention to disparage those who are watching our tax rates. I just wanted to point out that we SHOULD willingly pay taxes for the things government ought to be doing. (That doesn't include sports stadiums.) What gripes me are those who don't want to pay taxes, period, for any reason. Mike's point is especially pertinent--when government exceeds its proper role, we all resent paying. A.J. hits on another pet peeve of mine: borrowing from my grandchildren to avoid pay-as-you-go. "Borrow and spend" is even worse than "tax and spend."

Lucrece, I agree in theory that this is a republic, but disagree in practice. Even the founders, while they stated their fear of the tyranny of the majority permitted it in the slave states, and hiding behind the doctrine of state's rights (which has it's place, but not in the trading away of civil liberty). Historically, groups have had to make gains by method of showing that they are a bloc of votes that must be counted. Certainly this is what black America did in the 1950s and 60s, and what the LGBT community did to make the Democrats block SJR-7 here in Indiana this year. However, the question of the right to live one's live their way is hardly settled. It won't be until the move from democracy towards republic meets a critical mass.

AJ- Bill Maher got it half right. If taxes are cut and spending is hiked as the Republican Congress under Bush did, then yes, it is a transfer of wealth from the future to the present. If the tax rates are marginally cut, and the line is held on spending, what happens is a budget surplus, as JFK's tax cuts proved. These Republicans were trying to have their cake and eat it too: deliver all the pork barrel spending while pandering to their base. Doesn't work, and thank goodness they lost their Congressional majorities.

Mike: The Republicans are even worse than you say. They are cutting taxes and financing wars on debt.

Reagan doing this --- causing an arms race with the USSR that ultimately toppled Russian communism --- will probably be judged by history as justified.

But the Bushes (both 41 and 43) have financed optional wars on national debt. The ramifications of this remains to be seen, but if it results in Asian investors owning the corporate core of America (via the stock and bond markets, and similar financial instruments) then they could not only be selling the future prosperity of America, but the economic infrastructure of America itself.