I remember my dad talking about taxes, back when I was a kid. He told me how high they’d been for years, something like ninety percent on the highest income. Of course, as he also told me, the rich used things called tax shelters to lower the rate they actually paid.
Then, under President Kennedy, the top rate was fell to somewhere in the seventies; still high, but better. My dad was by no means rich, not even close, but he felt a lower rate was more reasonable. He always fell into that group of people that thought people should keep what they’d earned.
My father also had no patience for people he saw as lazy; just wanting a handout! From his days working through the Great Depression, sometimes two and three jobs at the same time, he knew the value of hard work. He also saw plenty of drunks hanging around Beacon Hill, in Boston, where he worked; he had no sympathy for them.
Yet, he also saw the value of taxes. As a young man, he’d driven the old US. Route 1 to Miami, Florida. He’d seen how poor a road it was.
Although he hadn’t made it to Germany, during World War II, he’d seen portions of it during his bike trip in 1936. He’d seen the Autobahns, the highways the Germans built; he was impressed. When President Eisenhower suggested the Interstate Highway System, my dad was in favor of it one hundred percent.
He’d also travelled by train across Europe, where he saw the value of an extensive transportation system. Although he didn’t use Amtrak, my father did love the subways of Boston. He and I would go to the aquarium, the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science and countless other places, all by using the trains.
The subways were cheap, fast and we never had to worry about getting a parking spot. As well, he saved on gas for the car, which was yet another place he could be a bit of a miser. Oh, the times we ran out of gas looking for a place one-cent cheaper than a station we’d just passed. Mind you, this was in the days when gas was under forty cents a gallon! I digress and that’s another story.
The point of all this is one thing: He knew the importance of paying a reasonable fee or tax for the things we need. Yet, today, I definitely do not see that reflected in society. To suggest, in the slightest, that the rich pay a miniscule more in taxes is to wage Class Warfare and to crush the job creators. Really, is paying something as little as three per cent more to fund schools, roads, science and other vital programs is warfare? What was Eisenhower waging, an all-out blitzkrieg on the foundation of our nation?
Why is it that the Republicans are perfectly okay with paying billions in farm subsidies and supports to the oil companies, but we can’t squeeze out a little money for the unemployed and hungry children and veterans?
Yeah, my dad hated high taxes, but there is that one little word in that sentence that makes it distinctive: high. When the rich and huge corporations pay no taxes, that’s a crime, and he would be just as angry over that as he and his friends paying too much.
It’s a pity more people don’t feel the same.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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