Ironwood Tree

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Taxing Story

I'd like to explain taxes in a form that Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, et al. can understand.

You see, golf courses are good. Everyone should have their own golf course. You get exercise if you walk, golfing is a wonderful way to conduct business and entertain clients, and golf courses are pretty.

The thing is, they're very expensive. How can even a very successful businessman have a golf course? You have to buy acres of land, construct 18 holes, landscape it, water it, chase the geese away... you get the picture.

So, when people realized that golf was a good thing but very few people were able to create their own golf courses, some brilliant Republicans had an idea. The people that loved golf would band together and create some sort of club. It would be in the country where there was room to build a beautiful golf course. They'd give money every month, call it dues, hire people to take care of the grass and call it a Country Club.

Some of those members also liked tennis. Hey, we could add tennis courts too they said! The people who only liked golf grumbled a little bit, but they thought that tennis courts would make it a nice club and their wives could play tennis while they golfed. They ponied up an extra few bucks a month and it worked well.

Then the kids wanted a swimming pool. Ok, they worked it out. Not everyone used it, but everyone had someone in their family who benefited from the golf course, the tennis courts, and the swimming pool. They also started a restaurant. Everyone used that for special family events and life was good. Deals were flourishing on the golf course, the club encouraged local development, and the parents knew their kids were at the swimming pool and not smoking dope on streetcorners.

After a while it became a part of their life. They didn't question the dues even when they increased with inflation.

After a few years, some of the members got tired of the monthly dues. "After all", one founder harrumphed, "I never swim, it's undignified!" Those who were too portly to play tennis complained about the upkeep on the courts and the wives wanted to hold the family gatherings at nicer places. The tennis players had their tennis balls stolen by the border collie that was hired to chase the geese. No one wanted to spend any money on anything they didn't use personally. One especially grumpy person flew a Confederate flag over the clubhouse and the waitstaff quit.

So the club was sold and the golf course became a housing development. The clubhouse became a daycare center and all the old members just sat at home and died of gout and poverty since they didn't have their nice club to get new business any more.

Taxes are irritating. They're hard to figure out and you see your money being wasted every day. But when I send in my tax forms every year, I think to myself "Would I pay this much to live in the United States?" Mom's family were poor Romanian and Austrian peasants. Dad's family were slightly less poor Danish and French Canadian farmers. They worked very hard here and lived to a comfortable old age thanks to Social Security and American opportunity. My uncles worked for the WPA in the '30's and I still enjoy hiking at Devil's Lake on WPA paths. I pay for the CDC to fight diseases I'd never get anyway, I pay for highways I'll never drive. It doesn't matter. We're all in this together, and if we don't have a reasonable level of taxation and a decent court system we'll end up a third world country with lousy roads, lots of crime, bad water and worse air.


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