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Barry Levinson Headshot

American Fireworks

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We have a real problem with taxation in this country. We don't want it. It's in our DNA. We went to war with England over it. The English felt we should contribute to their war chest, having fought to protect the colonies in the French and Indian War. England footed the bill and Parliament tried to impose the Townshend Duties to get out of debt. We said no!!!! The Crown said fine, you only have to pay tax on tea instead of numerous other commodities like paint, glass, and paper. We said no!!! They said it was only fair to pay a small amount. We said no... They said the cost of tea would actually decline! The tea tax would only threaten smugglers and Colonial middlemen. We said no tax. And a revolution was born. No taxation without representation we said.

Now the rallying cry is no taxation, period. We don't care what it is. We don't want any taxation. Grover Norquist makes a living getting Congress to sign a loyalty oath that basically says they are opposed to any tax regardless of its consequence. No matter how important or dire the situation may be... it doesn't matter. A loyalty oath must be signed.

But to who are we being loyal?

Our roads and bridges are crumbling. Everyone acknowledges that our infrastructure is in a state of total neglect. We're cutting back on fire fighters because it's too expensive. We're cutting back on police forces because it's too expensive. We're eliminating libraries because it's too expensive. We're cutting back on those who fight forest fires. We're cutting back on science programs. We're even thinking of getting rid of the U.S. Mail because it is too expensive. And that's just the short list.

The problem is you have to raise taxes or create some type of revenue to pay for these services. But, too often, creating revenue is still referred to as some form of a tax. It's a hidden tax, to their way of thinking. It could be local, state, or federal tax. We don't want it.

Picture this scene -- a young boy or girl in some small town, or a city for that matter, walks up the steps to the public library and it is closed. Closed because they cannot afford to keep it open. The wealthiest nation on the face of the earth cannot afford to keep a library open. Explain that to this young boy or girl.

The Health Care law that was upheld by the Supreme Court recently has struck fear for many in this county. "It's a tax" is the human cry. Health care is a tax! Panic! Never mind that our whole nation can now be covered by a health plan, making us the 33rd of the 33 developed nations in the world to provide universal health care. Never mind that everyone can no longer be denied an insurance policy because of a pre-existing illness... or that no one can be forced into bankruptcy because of medical debt. Never mind that sons and daughters can now be included in a family health plan for an extended period. They don't care. It's a tax! It is treason. Tyranny! Even if it is taxation with representation.

Still, it is heresy.

The English may have been right. We are an ungrateful lot.