Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Author’s Note: A friend of mine has pointed out (correctly) that this year’s tax day has actually been delayed because of the Emancipation Celebration in Washington D.C. This day is considered a holiday to celebrate the day that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on April 16, 1863, abolishing slavery in the United States. I’m told that it is celebrated with parades and fireworks not unlike the Fourth of July celebration. As April 16 fell on a Saturday, it was instead celebrated on the closest weekday this year, Friday April 15. This is an egregious error on my part, and I truly apologize for this mistake. The day is not celebrated everywhere, and I was not even aware that there was such a celebration. I thank my friend who pointed it out to me.
Somewhere in Bahrain I have a reader. My site doesn’t tell me any more specifics than the country of my readers, but for the past several weeks, I’ve routinely gotten a hit from Bahrain, a small island nation just off of the Arabian Peninsula. No doubt, it’s a cultural and architectural paradise. I mention it because, if we’re honest about it, all nations run on taxes, and while I know nothing about the tax season or situation of Bahrain, it’s my guess that my reader (or readers) there know nothing of American taxes either.
In America, Tax Day is always on April 15, today. Yes, no, it’s not April 15 today. In fact, April 15 was Good Friday, and although one of the founding principles of America is supposed to be the separation of church and state, we could hardly have taxes due on a holy holiday. When Columbus “discovered” America (which we all know he honestly did not, but he did capitalize on it), many of the people who traveled to the new land to settle it were Puritans and other religious followers who were escaping European nations that were trying to force them all into their church, usually some branch of the Catholic church. The Puritans no longer exist, but what they were seeking was religious freedom, the right to practice their own beliefs free from a government forcing them to conform. Today, many American politicians (and citizens) have forgotten this and seem to believe that “religious freedom” means “freedom to be Christian you damned heathens”.
I have no problem with taxes, honestly. It’s a social equalizer when done correctly, paying for infrastructure such as highway repairs, bridges, power plants and more. At the local level, they pay for fire, police, garbage, water and other important safety nets. The issue right now is that, in my opinion, American taxes are upside down in several ways. For example, whether we like it or not, we do have universal health care. Hospitals are required, by law, to treat people in need, and if they do not have the money to pay for it, the money comes from insurance and inflated medical prices for those who can. It would be so much less expensive and far more efficient if we had universal health care with negotiated prices so the medical facilities knew they would always be paid and wouldn’t have to find a way to make up for losses. We got a little bit closer with Obama’s health plan, but the Republican anti-insurance movement pretty much destroyed it.
It’s unfortunate that politicians look at social support as a tool, but what’s worse, they don’t see it as a way to get votes so much as a weapon to remove votes from their opponents. The Republican party passed up an opportunity to find ways to bolster the weak parts of the Affordable Health Care act to help Americans in favor of striking parts down and attacking it in order to make Obama look bad. As such, our health insurance system is only marginally better than it was before Obama took office, and it, too, needs to be replaced by something better. And, as usual, the party that had been calling for it to be replaced (although they’re oddly quiet about it of late) has yet to offer a better plan.
The other issue is that Republicans have chosen to court wealthy donors over protecting and serving their constituents. Reagan introduced the idea of “trickle down” economics, meaning that if the wealthy kept more of their wealth, they’d spend it to hire more people and pay higher wages. They don’t. It’s abundantly clear that instead they demonstrate how they became wealthy in the first place by hoarding their money and slashing benefits and wages for the people who made them wealthy. Since Reagan, George Bush, George W. Bush, and Trump further cut taxes for the wealthy, and ironically, spent far more money than their Democratic counter parts to the point where, under W., the economy of not just the US but of the entire world was brought to the edge of collapse. In the meantime, in order to “pay” for tax breaks for the mega wealthy, social programs were cut under these “leaders”, such as Meals on Wheels (probably one of the most successful programs the government ever instituted outside of military expansion), arts, elder care and more.
So, yes, as odd as it is, today, the eighteenth, is Tax Day. And yes, as important as they are, taxes are very good. Unfortunately, once collected, they can be easily misused.