Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fair Share Challenge: What Taxes Do For Me

This post is in response to a blogger challenge from my friend Isy. She was fed up with millionaires who don't want to pay their fair share of taxes, as well as tea baggers who say silly things like "Get your filthy government hands off my Medicare!" She decided to write a post about her life, putting in boldfaced type anything that is funded or subsidized by taxes (federal, state, or local). I hope lots of bloggers take up the challenge and it makes its way all over the internet.

Now, some of you may know I have been critical of local government corruption in Baltimore, particularly when it comes to the degradation of The Senator Theatre, which got very limited funding when Tom Kiefaber was running it, but just got a lot more funding now that Baltimore City has taken it over and chosen some politically connected cronies to run it. It's important to be aware of it and speak out when tax dollars are being misused and public officials are acting inappropriately, but we all also have a lot of things to be thankful for that are funded by taxes -- things we almost couldn't live without.

Yesterday, I drove by city streets to Whole Foods, where I bought yummy stuff to eat. Many of the farmers who grew it probably received subsidies. Perhaps Whole Foods received subsidies as well, to build their store there. I know they have received such government help in other communities. Everything that was for sale at the store had conveniently arrived there on trucks that traveled over highways and city streets. Thank heavens for that, because I wouldn't want to shop at a store with empty shelves!

After I went to Whole Foods, I drove over more city streets to get to the farmer's market. Lots of delicious stuff there for sure! It was a lot of driving that day, but luckily, my car doesn't use much gasoline.

Tonight, my friend is coming to visit me, and she's arriving at Penn Station by Amtrak. Maybe while she's here, we'll visit the art museum, which we enjoyed last time she was here. Or maybe we'll go to the Inner Harbor and see the aquarium or the U.S.S. Constellation.

Later this year, I'm going to Massachusetts. I'll be using the interstate highway system to get there. It would be a pretty circuitous and maybe impossible route if it weren't for all those bridges built in the 1930s by the WPA. All of that infrastructure is getting quite old now, yet we all still rely on it every day. I often see Department of Transportation workers out on the highways and bridges fixing them. The resulting traffic jams are a bit of a pain, but it would be even worse if they never got repaired! Getting the funding to repair our nation's infrastructure is a continual political challenge, largely because of arguments in Congress like the one last week, where some people thought it was more important to subsidize Bill Gates and Dick Cheney and other wealthy people than to fund basic programs that benefit us all.

My sister just got a job working for the school system. Her kids are being educated in the same school system. Her husband works at a non-profit. My other sister works for a public university. Her ex-husband works at a library. My parents used to work at a different public university, but now they're retired. They're getting social security and Medicare. I hope those things are still available when I'm their age.

I've started selling things online, which I love so far. It means I can work from home, but sometimes I have to go to the post office to put things in the mail. I used to work for various corporations, but then I got injured. I'm glad I was able to get state disability and worker's comp, but it's a good thing I didn't have to rely on them entirely, and had savings, because they wouldn't have been enough. I'm thankful too that there's still some government regulation of the banking industry or my savings and my retirement fund would probably be long gone.

It's a struggle to start a new career, and I'm no longer receiving any disability, but fortunately, I haven't had to go on food stamps or anything like that. It's nice to know they'd be there if I needed them. I wonder if I would qualify for any government grants for small business, but I haven't looked into it.

I don't know what the corporations I used to work for would have done without public schools and public universities. Even with those systems providing them with skilled and trained workers, they were still having a hard time finding enough people with the right skills.

I have cousins who are in various branches of the military. I hope those who are still serving stay safe.

I've had a couple of friends who had to go to hospitals recently. I'm glad they got good care.

I also want to note my gratitude for electricity. Without it, I'd be writing this with a pen by candlelight, and you'd have trouble reading it.

UPDATE: The Fair Share Challenge now has its own blog!

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Blogger Isy Aweigh said...

LOVE IT! The ways you noted how corporations benefit from the commons was very nicely done.

I think yours is more graceful. Fortunately, it's not a competition, it's a CHALLENGE! heh

August 11, 2011


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