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Taxes – who needs them? Answer – we all do. Without taxes, the government has no way of funding essential services like fire, law enforcement, and education. Without taxes, there is no way of paying for parks, roadways, and sewers. Without taxes, we live in chaos.
By my introduction, one might assume that I am pro taxes, but that would be a classically flawed assumption. No one in his/her right mind is pro taxes! Who enjoys having money taken out of his/her paycheck and/or paying an extra ten cents for a candy bar?
I do not view taxes as a positive characteristic of government; instead, I view them as a necessary evil of civilization. I moan and sigh when I am digging that extra dime out of my pocket for a candy bar, but then I stop to consider just how horrible life would be without a sufficient and well-funded government. I say to myself, “At least I don’t have to live in Mississippi.”
Or do I? Mississippi has been the prototype for disorganization and backwoods government since Lee was still wearing a Confederate uniform, but Tennessee just might be making a move for that title. We are now fiftieth in educational funding. Fiftieth! Yes, your calculations are correct. We now sit behind such perennial cellar dwellers as Arkansas, Alabama, and even . . .gulp . . .Mississippi.
Considering that educational funding makes up a large majority of state expenses, what does this new perch atop the bottom rung say about our beloved volunteer state? As far as I can tell, it says that we may be quick to volunteer our service, but one might as well forget about catching a glimpse of our wallets.
Right now, state legislators are arguing over the pros and cons of income taxes, sales taxes, wheel taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, and every other form of taxation known to man. And for what? The whole state agrees that something must be done, but not one of us seems willing to pay for it.
Why? Why are we all so stingy if we agree that our state is in utter disarray? There seems to be a plethora of explanations, or should I say excuses?
Some blame the state’s government for not spending the money well in the first place. They say that there would be no budget crunch if the government would sew up the holes in its already deep pockets. Yet I wonder how many of those people could claim good spending habits?
How many of them do not splurge every month on high tech gadgets and SUV payments? How many of them have first-class credit ratings? How many of them have retirement plans and/or college savings for their children? Judge not lest ye be judged.
Others shout to the heavens that this whole bloody mess would all be fixed if the state would only pass a lottery. “Look at Georgia!”, they all say.
Well, look at Georgia. Sure, they have a lottery and money for education, but at what expense? Studies show that, for the most part, lottery funds send middle and upper class children to college for free while middle and lower class families foot the bill.
Maybe it is just me, but it seems that rich and middle class parents can already afford to send their children to college, and lower class households need to stop wasting their limited finances on paper dreams and, instead, start spending them on food and clothing.
Lastly, we have the mother of all scapegoats in this budget crisis: income taxes. Look, I hate that federal income tax withdrawal section on my check stub as much as the next guy, but how many of us actually understand the principles of income taxation?
Income taxes are either progressive or flat; in other words, either they take a larger percentage from higher incomes or they take the same percentage out of all incomes – rich and poor alike. On the other hand, sales taxes are regressive. Meaning, they take a larger percentage of income from the poor and middle classes than they do from the upper class. A budget solely dependent upon sales taxes leaves the poor and middle classes with a majority of the economic burden. So, unless one is in the upper echelons of income brackets, I have no earthly idea why he/she would support a sales tax increase over income tax incorporation.
Maybe I am just being a tad too logical. Rationale and human beings have never gone well together. We are the very epitome of contradiction. We all want tight stomachs and mid-night snacks. We all want lots of money and very little stress. We all want to be served safe homes and good schools, but how many of us seem willing to pick up the check?

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