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Paying My Dues - Peter Salwen


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Paying My Dues and Proud of It By Peter Salwen

Like most taxpayers, I have learned to think of my earnings as being worth maybe 45 percent of their face value -- if I'm careful.

Federal, state and local taxes and Social Security take about a third of each dollar I bring in. As the owner of a small business, I also pay Social Security, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance premiums for my employees. For the luxury of renting office space in Manhattan, I pay New York City's commercial occupancy tax, which amounts to an 11 percent surcharge on my rent. And, like everybody who buys anything in New York City, I pay a sales tax of 8.25 percent.

So naturally I'm enraged about Big Government and delighted about the current push in Washington to reduce my taxes, right?

Wrong. I am not only a taxpayer, but also a grown-up, which means that, by and large, I expect to pay for what I get. And I've gotten plenty for my taxes.

For most of my life, government -- on the local, state and Federal levels -- has done very well by me. I got a more than adequate education at public schools and enjoyed countless hours at public libraries, playgrounds and pools. When we went on vacation, my family drove on well-maintained roads to state and national parks.

When my mother's lamb chops blazed up in the broiler one evening, the local fire department showed up promptly; when she lay dying, many years later, Medicare helped ease the burden of a long, catastrophic illness.

Big Government has wiped out polio and smallpox, linked our cities with superhighways and helped millions of young people get a college education. It created a sturdy safety net for the aged and sick, rushed to assist the victims of natural disasters, made sure that our food, water and medicines were safe and probed the farthest reaches of the universe.

Who did all this? Government employees, by and large. Were they unfailingly wise, courteous and honest? Of course not. And of course Government spending has often been wasteful and corrupt. But no government, anywhere, has done better for so many people.

That's why I basically don't mind paying taxes. I see New York and the United States as my favorite clubs; taxes are my membership dues. What I do mind is politicians who think they can buy my vote by promising to cut my taxes. The politicians I'll support are the ones who admit we'll have to raise taxes to pay for essential services and public amenities.

You hear a lot of nostalgic talk about the America of 40 years ago, when upward mobility was a cinch for anyone willing to work for it. And life really was like that -- not for everyone, but for most Americans.

What we forget is that in those days, marginal income tax rates ran up to 92 percent, and there wasn't much griping about it.

 

Read the rest:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/16/opinion/paying-my-dues-and-proud-of-it.html

 

I posted the above years ago, but it got offed by the 1000-day rule.

 

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