Teabag protest is not about responsible tax policy

As we face another April 15, the great American debate over taxes and the proper role of government has taken a turn toward the grotesque.

Those screaming the loudest this Tax Day are the self-named “teabaggers,” who are angrily carrying signs and delivering tea bags to elected officials in actions they say are based on the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

In that historic event, American colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxes levied by the government of England. At the time, the more than 1.5 2.2 million colonists (roughly a quarter of the size of population of England) were not allowed to elect members to Parliament – they were taxed without any representation.

That’s a far cry indeed from the massive turnout – and resulting mandate – produced by the U.S. electorate in November 2008.

Many have noted that it’s a rather disingenuous for the teabaggers to scream about Obama’s tax policies, inasmuch as Bush’s policies transformed a budget surplus into a massive deficit with tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest members of our society.  The Obama  tax cuts benefit 95% of Americans — those whose incomes have been stagnating.

Sadly, the teabaggers are open to ridicule for so much more than their unfortunate name.

In the face of a relentless publicity push by Fox News and right-wing talk radio, questions  have arisen over who is really organizing the protests and whether they truly sprang from grassroots protestors or in fact are backed by corporate lobbyists or multi-billionaire media companies. It’s suggestive of a word coined a few years ago – astroturfing.  Astroturfing is basically fake grassroots organizing.

Consider it all together and it’s almost funny.

But taxes – who pays them, how much different people and companies are required to pay and what is done with the money that’s collected – is too important an issue to laugh off.

The American ideal of civic duty and responsibility has always included the practice of paying taxes to contribute to the greater good of the community, including public safety and public health and public education and the armed forces and all of the other services that help support that other most cherished American ideal – freedom.

That’s why advocates of a more thoughtful approach to tax policy held a “tax fairness rally” today at the Main Post Office in Albuquerque.

In contrast to the kneejerk reaction of teabaggers, some of whom bitterly oppose paying taxes on principle and offer no solution for funding crucial governmental functions, the tax fairness advocates are simply calling for more transparency and balance in the way tax policy is devised.

Specifically, said Bill Jordan of NM Voices for Children, one of the groups who organized the rally, the group would like people to start questioning why out of state corporations are taxed at a different rate than New Mexico-based ones.

Jordan also wants more taxpayers to ask why the state isn’t required to track and report what he estimates could be as much at $5 billion in tax breaks for corporations annually.

Unlike most teabaggers, who see the American government as a foreign interloper or robber baron, tax fairness advocates like Jordan acknowledge that our government must continue to collect and spend tax money on programs and services that benefit us all and make us the great nation we are.

I must confess I’ve always been perplexed by the shortsightedness of Americans who complain about paying taxes for the sake of paying them.

After all, what do our taxes pay for? Roads and police and schools and libraries and parks and kick-ass armed forces and many other things no American wants to live without.

And more: Check out this article from the New York Times that chronicles the effects of cuts that have already been made and predicts the social devastation that would come with more.

Reading that story breaks my heart and it makes me wonder: Are Americans who get sick or lose their jobs or lose their homes or grow old or get injured while fighting for their country simply “losers” who don’t deserve help from their government or their fellow man?

I guess those things never happen to teabaggers, and they shouldn’t be expected to pay taxes that help sorry people who mismanage their lives like that.

But in the real world, I see good, hard-working people, through no fault of their own, experiencing all of these things, and rightfully expecting their government to help.

So I think I’ll pay my taxes this year without throwing teabags at anyone.

And if I have to think about taxes, I’ll join Voices for Children and spend Tax Day calling for responsible tax policies that are transparent and fair for all.


One Response

  1. What a screed!
    How much tax do you think is too much? So now the liberals who whined about about the spending of Bush and all of Bush’s policies are defending Obama’s over-the-top spending? What’s the difference? Indeed, the difference is several TRILLION dollars!
    Hey, while you’re paying your taxes so happily, why don’t you pay mine too!
    We wouldn’t be going down the toilet if Obama wasn’t sabotaging the country with his taxes on “the top 5%”. People trying to run small and large business which are the backbone of the country. People who employ much of the workforce. My heart doesn’t bleed for the people who pay no taxes. Those that work for cash, and illegal immigrants. We don’t need more big government. What are you looking to become a dictatorship? That’s how Hitler got his start. Americans across the US were unhappy about Bush’s spending. But Obama’s is ridiculous. If you can’t see the difference, your either crazy, or another corrupt policitican.

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