Random (but not really)

Monday, April 15, 2019

It’s Tax Day! HOORAY!

That’s right, I like taxes! I like the benefits of living in a society that cares for all members, not forcing the indigent and needy to struggle and do terrible things if they don’t want to die on the streets.

So what are some of the benefits?

Public roads!

Made about the potholes? Of course you are! Justifiably! You know what those potholes are there! Because of people who try to avoid paying state and local taxes! (Yes, I AM judging you!)

But it’s more than that. We’ve traveled much of WV, and I can tell you precisely why the economy is so bad in so many areas: because no manufacturer in the right mind is going to build a plant where there are two lane roads with 9-11% grades and hairpin turns. They just aren’t. And it takes state and federal tax money to build those roads that might–just might–bring in businesses.

Without those roads? It’s just not going to happen.

Public schools!

Even if you don’t have kids, public education is necessary for a an informed citizenry. The number of complete idiots who refuse to vaccinate their kids because they don’t understand how herd immunity works is in many ways a failure of our education system.

We’ve failed not just to teach people about basic science, we’ve also failed to instill critical thinking skills, which is possibly more important than basic science. (Possibly.)

Public Sanitation!

Read much about London during any number of historical periods?

Here’s something I read earlier this month. The woman is interview a night-soil man.

“The worst is them cesspits what’s hooked up to them newfangled water-flushing contraptions.”

“Why?”

“’ Cause a cesspit, it ain’t designed t’ take all that water, that’s why. So them things is always overflowin’. If ye ask me, what they oughta do is let them nobs who wants them danged patented washdown pedestals connect ’em to the sewer system.”

London had long possessed an elaborate sewer system, but the sewers were intended only for stormwater and underground rivers. It was illegal to use them for the disposal of waste.

Hero said, “The sewers empty into the Thames.”

“Aye.”

“We get our water from the Thames.”

William Bell laughed, showing a mouthful of surprisingly even, healthy teeth. “Aye. So?”

Harris, C. S.. Who Slays the Wicked (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery) (p. 341). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

You think dog poop on the sidewalks is annoying? Without public sanitation, human waste was just thrown out into the streets.

Public Safety!

Ever read anything about police services 200 years ago? If you were rich, you could hire people to solve your crimes, and if you were very rich, you’d have to do something really terrible to keep the authorities from looking the other way.

In general, a child who stole food to eat could be thrown into prison or transported. And sometimes the only alternative to thievery was prostitution. Or starving to death.

Fire services were even worse. The first fire services were private ones–you paid them in advance to make sure your house didn’t burn down in there was a fire. You didn’t pay a fire service? They’d protect your neighbors home while watching yours burn to the ground. Which sometimes meant a “protected” home burned as well.

Public Health!

Just 100 years ago, the “Spanish Flu” swept the world, killing more people than WWI, which was happening at the time.

Public health laws required people to wear masks in public, which helped slow the spread of the virulent and dealy illness.

Public health also protects our food supply, as well as regulating those who prepare our food. Everyone has heard the phrase “Typhoid Mary” but do you actually know she was a real person who caused serious illness and death? She was a carrier of Typhoid, but it did not make her ill.

(P)reviously the cook had served in 8 families. Seven of them had experienced cases of typhoid. Twenty-two people presented signs of infection and some died.

That year, about 3,000 New Yorkers had been infected by Salmonella typhi, and probably Mary was the main reason for the outbreak. Immunization against Salmonella typhi was not developed until 1911,

Public health also insures that our water supplies are safe–and if you think this isn’t still a problem, then you have not been paying attention.

Public Parks and Forests!

To end on a more positive note, our national and state parks and forests are a result of state and federal taxes. Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, we have wild and historical places preserved for us and for future generations.

The Grand Canyon, the Giant Redwoods–without our park system, these things would be either destroyed, or available only to the wealthy. Forests and park contribute to our health and well-being, from the air they clean, the plants and animals they preserve, and the green spaces they provide for the physical and mental health of those who use them.

I’d also like to note that here in WV, our state forests are also public hunting grounds. Without our state forests, that land would be in private hands, unavailable either because it had been destroyed, or because it had been restricted by private land-owners.

These–and many other reasons–are why I am always glad to pay taxes. And why I am judging you every time you use ploys to avoid paying taxes while still wanting to government to fix your potholes and fight crime and all the other many services governments provide.

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