While everyone, including me, has grumbled about paying their taxes from time to time, that does not mean they are unnecessary. Taxes play a vital role in the provision of services at all levels of government. Personally, I like to think of taxes as a form of insurance. While I may not see immediate benefits when I pay the premium, the peace of mind that comes from knowing the public services are there when I need them is comforting.
When the profit motive is built into the equation, that peace of mind is eroded because services are then provided based on profit-driven assumptions. For example, I sure do not want the quality of the meat I eat, the purity of medicines I swallow, or response times I receive from emergency services determined by some sniveling bean counter raking in undeserved bonuses on Wall Street.
Other examples of the peace of mind that comes from thinking of taxes as insurance can be seen from the following public services (partial list):
- Knowing there are police, EMS, fire, and other protective services responding quickly and efficiently to those in times of need.
- Knowing clean water is coming from the tap, while waste is going out the sewer system and being properly treated before it enters rivers and streams.
- Knowing planners and building inspectors are reviewing projects to make sure they are situated/built in conformance to codes and no shortcuts are being taken.
- Knowing there are national, state, and local parks to enjoy that are well-maintained, protected, and free of refuse.
- Knowing my children can attend quality public schools and that my property value will be supported by the quality of the schools.
- Knowing that excellent and reasonably affordable higher education opportunities are available for myself or my children.
- Knowing that our nation is protected by the best and most advanced military services in the world.
- Knowing that products I use, drink, and eat have been inspected to thwart unsafe and unscrupulous manufacturing and production practices.
- Knowing there are specialized individuals and services that are keeping a watchful eye on the skies for weather warnings and to assure safe/secure air travel.
- Knowing there are scientists and individuals who are working every day to protect our planet.
Many more instances could be listed. The point is that the taxes we pay serve to give us all peace of mind in much the same way that paying for our homeowner, life, or car insurance does. And just like insurance, a lapse in premium payments or a reduction in one’s coverage can lead to disastrous results, often when one needs the insurance benefits the most.
I, for one, would gladly pay more taxes to assure the quality and availability of public services is maintained. Like anything else, the cost for providing government services is impacted by inflationary trends. It is unrealistic, irrational, and seriously short-sighted to think that the government’s cost of operation would somehow be held in a vacuum that’s immune to economic forces.
I am proud to know my taxes have helped shape this country. Similarly, I prefer the solace from knowing my taxes have been paid to insure that each time I need a government service, it will be there quickly and efficiently.