Need a reason to like taxes? I have several
Appeared in the Biloxi Sun Herald Mar. 16, 2007
Like everybody else, I'm busy putting together those pesky—and expensive—tax returns for 2006. I dread it each year, mainly because I send a bunch of hard-earned money to some government agency and then often forget to quantify the benefits I receive in return. Unfortunately, I always seem to guess wrong on my withholding and end up sending the government even more after figuring the final solution.
But after doing this for many years, and after visiting many countries where they don't collect taxes like we do, I've come to the following conclusion—it's actually a good deal.
Let's step back and consider where we are. Not everybody likes us and some of our policies (North Korea and Iran come to mind), but everybody respects us (even North Korea and Iran would, if they had leadership that valued their people over their personal power).
Everywhere I've traveled—well over 100 countries—people want to be like us.
They want their children to be educated here; they want to use our business techniques; they love our quality of living; they wish they enjoyed the freedoms we have; and they would especially like to have the opportunities available to us. They listen to our music, especially old-time rock and roll, country and western, jazz, and even the Chipmunks' Christmas songs! They track our sports.
The young people will wear anything that smacks of the USA, from Garth Brooks T-shirts to Yankees baseball hats (my personal favorite was a Cleveland Indians cap worn by a guy who was trying to mug me in Tanzania). Trust me on this—the vast majority of the world wants what we have. That's what I call respect.
If you want facts rather than concepts that demand respect, we are world leaders in almost every category that counts.
We produce more electricity, have more Internet providers, have more paved runways, have won more Nobel prizes, have won more Olympic medals—and on and on and on—than any other country in the would. We're the best.
The question is "Why?" And the next question is, "How do we stay the most respected nation in the world?"
There are lots of reasons why we command respect around the world. We've had incredible leadership for more than two centuries. Presidents like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and many more, all played vital roles in defining our greatness. Corporate and academic leaders too numerous to mention helped create a quality of living unequaled anywhere in the world. The work ethic of the American people makes us competitive in a global sense. We work hard! There is no question that our principles—freedom, equality, and opportunity for all—set us apart. The courage we exhibit when it comes to making tough decisions involving our national integrity is admired everywhere integrity is valued. The courage we show as we spend our most valuable resource—the lives of our sons and daughters—to protect our principles demands respect.
Now to the $64,000 question: "How do we continue to be seen as the world's most respected nation?" This isn't rocket science—we need leaders across the spectrum of global activities.
From Washington, to state capitals, to our cities, and across corporate America, throughout our education system, and within our social institutions, we need leaders. Investing in the next "greatest generation" will be fundamental to our national respect.
We need to keep working hard. The world has figured out that hard work is the ticket to the economic dance, and our productivity has to keep pace in a global sense.
We have to have the courage to protect our principles, even if it means sacrifice. Freedom, equality, and opportunity; these principles that define our national soul will define our national respect. These principles are the great enablers of our security and economic stability.
It's pretty simple, but it all starts with putting our money where our mouth is—and that means paying our taxes. Taxes pay for developing leaders, and provide the resources necessary to guard and protect the enabling principles we cherish.
So, I'm back where I started—cranking through the ol' 1040... you know, the one that says, "How much did you make this year? Please send that amount."
But we get a great deal back. What a great place to live! I just wish we had out-scored Arkansas!