8/4/2003

 

Putting that rebate check to use

 

I was going to continue with stories related to the Iraq war that the press failed to cover well, but something has come along to interrupt that plan. Something in the mail. A check from the U. S. Treasury. For $400.00.

 

It is part of the Bush tax cut plan. I realize the idea is that if some working families get this money (though many won't) and spend it, it will be good for the economy, but there's a balance to everything. Obviously it wouldn't work for all levels of government to return all your taxes to you. It would be great for your economy, and the economy in general, but who would pay the police? And would you care that the economy is doing better after a loved one is mugged and in the hospital?

 

Just so, important functions the government needs to be doing are being mugged by a combination of the Bush tax cut and the state legislature's absurd refusal to raise taxes when they are needed. It's fine to reduce waste and tighten the belt when funds are short, but some things need to be maintained. If we under-fund health care for children who won't be covered otherwise, or education, or the environment, or the national parks, what good will it do that the economy is doing better later on? And some things just cannot be covered by the private economy, like the environment.

 

A perfect case in point: From the Associated Press on 7/27 is an article on how the Republican leadership in the U. S. House stripped fire fighting funds from the Forest Service. This in a season when we are destined to have many forest fires that threaten or destroy residential areas. So the service will probably be forced to do what it has done in past years, borrow funds from other programs of theirs, like fire prevention work. Which just makes next year that much more likely to see a lot of fires. What did good ol' Benny Franklin say? Penny wise and pound foolish? Even if the economy is doing better in the future, that won't bring back the burned homes or turn a burned area back into the old forest it was. Some things need to be taken care of and maintained in the present, not just later when the economy is better, we hope.

 

I opposed the tax cut, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I'm sending my check off to a service or charity that will cover something our taxes should be covering. And I invite you to join me. Let me know where you sent your check and how much it was for. My email is listed on my website (see the end of this column). If there's enough of a response, in some future column I can give us all a bit of encouragement by reporting how many others did this, and what sorts of charities or organizations they sent it to.

 

You can also list where you sent your money at the web site www.FairEconomy.org/childcredit. Like myself, they're trying to give some impact to people putting their money where there mouth is by listing how many people do this. They have direct links to some charities. They also have good information about how unprogressive our tax system has gradually become over the years. If you contribute through them still let me know too so I can add to the count of people responding.