Let’s get positive in talk on taxes

Everyone loves a party. Even a TEA — Taxed Enough Already — party, which turns ordinary citizens into unpaid lobbyists.
Most everyone would rather pay fewer and smaller taxes. Anti-tax rallies, therefore, can attract people and provoke excited rhetoric.
But it is interesting to look behind the slogans. Let your thoughts run this way for a moment: without taxes, there would be no government. Being anti-tax is being anti-government — being anti-Iola, anti-Allen County, anti-Kansas and, yes, anti-America. Is that what the TEA parties are all about?
Of course not. That’s taking things to extremes, isn’t it?
Or maybe not.
How many people would attend a rally called to protest spending on education? Most of us would never gather in the square and shout “Down with schools!” Education, however, consumes more than three-quarters of the Kansas state budget. Cutting state taxes would hurt Kansas public schools, state universities, community colleges and technical schools even more than the recession has.
Four of the largest items in the federal budget are:
* Defense,
* Interest on the huge and growing federal debt,
* Social Security, and
* Health care — Medicare and Medicaid.
Which of these four huge tax consumers would TEA partiers eliminate or reduce?
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all growing in tandem with the retired population.
They all will require more tax money or their benefits will have to be reduced. Anyone who believes it would be politically possible to reduce spending on retiree pensions and health care benefits or to stop giving medical care to the nation’s poor — a category that has increased sharply due to the recession — has paid no attention to election results.
Any elected politician, including those who spoke at TEA parties here and across the country, will admit that their constituents aren’t very consistent. They shout loudly against taxes; even louder for increased benefits.
Actually, those most likely to be found leading anti-tax rallies are very often the most loyal supporters of the Armed Forces and the Pentagon budget, which eats taxes by the boxcar load.
That brings us to interest on the public debt, a large part of which is paid to foreigners in such friendly countries as China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the rest of the OPEC cartel. The interest must be paid. To default would bring catastrophic results. It can only be paid from tax revenues or more borrowing.
The national debt more than doubled over the last eight years because, among other reasons, the previous administration decided to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with borrowed money rather than raising taxes to keep in place the pay-as-you-go rule, which balanced the budget under President Clinton and actually paid down the national debt.

THIS ISN’T an argument against public meetings to discuss federal financing. Far from it. It is to ask for much more rigorous discussions that go beyond appeals to the selfishness in us and consider, as members of the larger community, what government should do for the benefit of all and how best to pay for it.
Being against taxes is really not the same as being for a better tomorrow.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.